In “Long Walk To Freedom“, a 16-year-old young Xhosa boy who had just finished the important rite of passage of circumcision, listen to a talk from an old man who he thought him ignorant and ungrateful, didn’t appreciate the civilization and progress that white man had brought into his tribe and his society.
The description starts at the boy’s proud feeling of the day he turned into manhood:
“At the end of our seclusion, the lodges and all their contents were burned, destroying our last links to childhood, and a great ceremony was held to welcome us as men to society. Our families, friends and local chiefs gathered for speeches, songs and gift-giving. I was given two heifers and four sheep, and felt far richer than I ever had before. I, who had never owned anything, suddenly possessed property. It was a heady feeling even though my gifts were paltry next to those of Justice, who inherited an entire herd. I was not jealous of Justice’s gifts. He was the son of a king; I was merely destined to be a counsellor to a king. I felt strong and proud that day. I remember walking differently on that day, straighter, taller, firmer. I was hopeful, and thinking that I might some day have wealth, property and status.
The main speaker of the day was Chief Meligqili, the son of Dalindyebo, and after listening to him, my gaily coloured dreams suddenly darkened. He began conventionally, remarking how fine it was that we were continuing a tradition that had been going on for as long as anyone could remember. Then he turned to us and his tone suddenly changed. ‘There sit our sons,’ he siad, ‘young, healthy and handsome, the flower of the Xhosa tribe, the pride of our nation. We have just circumcised them in a ritual that promise them manhood, but I am here to tell you that it is an empty, illusory promise, a promise that can never be fulfilled. For we Xhosas, and all black South Africans, are a conquered people. We are slaves in our own country. We are tenants on our own soil. We have no strength, no power, no control over our own destiny in the land of our birth. They will go to cities where they will live in shacks and drink cheap alcohol, all because we have no land to give them where they could prosper and multiply. They will cough their lungs our deep in the bowels of the white man’s mines. destroying their health, never seeing the sun, so that the white man can live a life of unequalled prosperity. Among these young men are chiefs who will never rule because we have no power to govern ourselves; soldiers who will never fight for we have no weapons to fight with; scholars who will never teach because we have no place for them to study. The abilitie, the intelligence, the promise of these young men will be squandered in their attempt to eke out a living doing the simplest, most mindless chores for the white man. These gifts today are naught, for we cannot give them the greatest gift of all, which is freedom and independence. I well know that Qamata [God] 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.
The audience had become more and more quiet as Chief Meligqili spoke and, I think, more and more angry. No one wanted to hear the words that he spoke that day. I know that I myself did not want to hear them. I was cross rather than aroused by the chief’s remarks, dismissing his words as as the abusive comments of an ignorant man who was unable to appreciate the value of the education and benefits that the white man had brought to our country. At the time, I looked on the white man not as an oppresor but as a benefactor, and I thought the chief was enormously ungrateful. This upstart chief was ruining my day, spoiling the proud feeling with wrong-headed remarks.
But without exactly understanding why, his words soon began to work on me. He had sown a seed, and though I let that seed lie dormant for a long season, it eventually began to grow. Later I realized that the ignorant man that day was not the chief but myself.
I only quoted these paragraphs to tell the story of change in this boy’s mind. I believe this paragraph should be put into young boys reader when they want to know what is grownup. In some paragraphs before these, Rolihlahla, the Xhosa boy, is experiencing fear, bravery and suffering in silence. Crying out ‘Ndiyindoda!" (‘I am a man!’) in crowd after the magician circumcised every boy, the young tribal to-be-counsellor is not easy to feel proud, manhood, and — culture. But the darken tone of the honorable guest speaker took away the glory glamour “in the same day". After the physical wound, the chief cut these beautiful boys’ mind and left them a deep, colonial psychological wound.
“He had sown a seed," the boy said. In these paragraphs it shows a double awareness toward the ritual itself and the predicament of his people, and let him measure the length and distance toward the most important gifts of all: “freedom and independence". I am serious to write it down here, for the minorities in Taiwan and Taiwanese people in the world, cause we haven’t yet heard the truth from our Chiefs’ mouth about our own empty, illusory promises. And there’s no one had such seed in our garden, our own multiple colonized whatever colored garden. We must do it ourselves. For our own ritual and awakening, our own circumcision and darken talk, our double wounds and the honorable Chief.
And this boy’s name is, Nelson Mandela. The Nobel Peace Prize 1993 winner and the ex-presidence of South Africa.