page 022 - Long Walk Original Manuscript [LWOM_022.jpg]

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NMPP-PC-NMPP-PC-2012/14-chapter 1-022

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Long Walk Original Manuscript [LWOM_022.jpg]

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  • 1976 - (Creation)

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page

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1 page

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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instead of blessing us as other speakers had done. I dismissed his speech at the time as the abusive remarks of an ignorant man who was unable to appreciate the value of education and all the wonderful things the white man had brought to our country. Much later I discovered that in actual fact the chief was one of the leading thinkers of the day in this field, that the ignorant man was not him but me. In the Transvaal in particular I came across progressive politicians who echoed the chief's remarks in different words. Among these were Doctors Xuma and Dadoo, Selope Thema, Michael Harmel, James Phillips and many others. In this chapter I have referred several times to custom and tradition. In actual fact the social importance of both has waned considerably during the last fifty years, a tendency which may gain momentum as the country continues to industrialise and education spreads. But in this country areas in particular and in towns with homogeneous African populations, the practice of circumcision is still prevalent, and one's acceptability to the community depends very largely on whether one has observed the custom or not. My association with the African National Congress has taught me that a broad national movement has numerous and divergent contradictions, fundamental and otherwise. The presence in one organisation of various classes and social groups with conflicting long term interests that may collide at crucial moments, brings its own train of conflicts. Contradictions of a different kind may split from top to bottom an otherwise homogeneous class or group, and the prejudices arising from different practices in regard to circumcision are amongst these. I still remember well my first reaction, and even revulsion, at Fort Hare when I discovered that a friend had not observed the custom. I was twenty one then and my subsequent association with the African National Congress and progressive ideas helped me to crawl out of the prejudice of my youth and to accept all people as equals. I came to accept that I

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