Memoirs of Life in South Africa

English 162: Literature and Place (A Queens College Study Abroad Course)

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Blog #3

January 4th, 2012 by mikestrianese · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

I’m hoping / assuming we all have the Back Bay Books version of Long Walk To Freedom, by Mandela.

An issue of conflicting races that I found can be seen on page 30, where the young boys are crossing into manhood with their circumcisions.  The main speaker of the highly esteemed event, Chief Meligqili of the Xhosa tribe explains to listeners that the promise of manhood provided to the boys was an empty one.  “A promise that can never be fulfilled.”  Meligqili recognizes the fact that the Xhosa’s are a “conquered people” whom are “slaves in their own country.”  He claims to be a tenant on his own soil, because despite the fact that he lives and spends his time on the land, it is not his; he did  not own it, none of the Xhosa’s did.   This example shows the amount of power whites had in blacks lives, despite them being the newer pigment on the African canvas.


I well know that Qamata is all-seeing and never sleeps, but I have a suspicion that Qamata may in fact be dozing.  If this is the case, the sooner I die the better because then I can meet him and shake him awake and tell him that the children of Ngubengcuka, the flower of the Xhosa nation, are dying.

A beautiful, powerful quote concluding the paragraph I found this information in.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • mikestrianese

    You are so right. White influence consumed every aspect of their world.

  • Merzela

    That is a very interesting passage. Circumcision, a sacred ritual in Mandela’s community, is even impacted by white power (as you mentioned). But it impacts these young men on a deeper level of spirituality and identity. Their culture is threatened, their manhood threatened and their communities threatened, their faith threatened. This is to say that white power impacted these young men not just physically, socially and psychologically but also spiritually. It impacted their whole being and of course this was detrimental to their livelihood.

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