page 2012/41-14 - Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 14) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_014.jpg]

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ZA COM NMFP-2012/41-2012/41-14


Nelson Mandela's Warders (page 14) [Nelson Mandela's Warders_014.jpg]


  • 2011 (Creation)

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1 digital image
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Verne Harris

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Page 14 of Nelson Mandela's Warders
James Gregory

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Access by permission of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

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  • English

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Gregory was born in 1941 and spent his boyhood on a farm in KwaZulu. Here he befriended a Zulu boy called Bafana and together they played, hunted and fished in what was mostly a wild landscape. It was an idyllic time and Gregory soon became fluent in Zulu and at home in the kraals in the district.

When I stayed in the kraals I had no inkling of race, colour or politics. I never considered myself white or any friends black. We were just friends. In many ways, this upbringing was the foundation upon which friendship developed later. (p29)

Eventually he was sent to boarding school, a lonely and miserable little boy who felt abandoned by his parents because they couldn’t or wouldn’t make the drive to fetch him on weekends. Fortunately, there were always the holidays when he could return to his friend and the freedom of the veld. Until, that is, his father decided to sell the farm and move to a bigger property many hours drive away. Gregory was never to see Bafana again, but another Zulu boy literally stepped out of the bush on the new farm and befriended him. (p56) Like Swart, Gregory also attended a number of schools where he portrays himself as constantly a victim of abuse by his contemporaries. In 1961 he matriculated and joined the department of justice as a clerk. He found the work dull and moved to the traffic department before applying to the department of prisons in 1966. He was accepted, trained at Kroonstad, and posted to Robben Island.

Soon enough he was taken to B Section which housed Nelson Mandela and the other Rivonians.

He writes: Inside the corridor the heat and smell hit me. Disinfectant, mixed with the unmistakable stench of sweating bodies and urine. The

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