characteristic of informal spoken language or conversation
In Xhosa, Rolihlahla literally means “pulling the branch of a tree,” but its
colloquial meaning more accurately would be “troublemaker.”
having a pleasant sound
The Xhosa are a proud and patrilineal people with an expressive and
euphonious language and an abiding belief in the importance of laws, education, and courtesy.
an incorrect or unsuitable name
That is a
misnomer in that no such title existed, but the role he played was not so different from what the designation implies.
shy, reserved, or inward looking
Justice and I became the best of friends, though we were opposites in many ways: he was extroverted, I was
introverted; he was lighthearted, I was serious.
greatest in importance, degree, or significance
The power and influence of chieftaincy pervaded every aspect of our lives in Mqhekezweni and was the
preeminent means through which one could achieve influence and status.
presenting favorable circumstances
Unanimity, however, might be an agreement to disagree, to wait for a more
propitious time to propose a solution.
a formal expression of praise
At the very end of the council, a praise-singer or poet would deliver a
panegyric to the ancient kings, and a mixture of compliments to and satire on the present chiefs, and the audience, led by the regent, would roar with laughter.
hear a case and sit as the judge at the trial of
Though not lawyers, these men presented cases and then
the quality of affording easy familiarity and sociability
These last few days of boyhood were spent with the other initiates, and I found the
an indifference to pleasure or pain
Circumcision is a trial of bravery and
stoicism; no anesthetic is used; a man must suffer in silence.
a disorderly outburst or tumult
I enjoyed the discipline and solitariness of long-distance running, which allowed me to escape from the
hurly-burly of school life.
state of uncertainty in a choice between unfavorable options
I have never had a problem in staying up through the night, but during one such night I was put in a moral
quandary that has remained in my memory.
someone who intrudes on the privacy or property of another
I predict that one day, the forces of African society will achieve a momentous victory over the
a trite or obvious remark
From the start, I saw that Oliver’s intelligence was diamond-edged; he was a keen debater and did not accept the
platitudes that so many of us automatically subscribed to.
destroy property or hinder normal operations
sabotaging my academic career over an abstract moral principle that mattered very little?
be undecided about something
I did not dwell on the situation at Fort Hare, but life has a way of forcing decisions on those who
a strong liking
The regent believed Justice and I brought out the worst in each other, or at least Justice’s
penchant for adventures and high-jinks influenced my more conservative disposition.
being present everywhere at once
The noise was harsh and
ubiquitous: the rasp of shaft-lifts, the jangling power drills, the distant rumble of dynamite, the barked orders.
showing hovering attentiveness
He was a friendly,
solicitous man, and after I had been there a short while, I told him that my real aspiration was to be a lawyer.
thin and tattered with age
I was embarrassed by my
threadbare clothing and crossed to the other side hoping she would not recognize me.
a means of communication between groups
Justice had formed a
liaison with a young woman, and I knew he had no intention of going home.
having a command of or composed in many languages
The WNLA compound was a multiethnic,
polyglot community of modern, urban South Africa.
with little or no preparation or forethought
During lunch breaks he would often give
impromptu lectures; he loaned me books to read, recommended people for me to talk to, meetings for me to attend.
hasty and without attention to detail; not thorough
The Advisory Board meetings were
perfunctory and bureaucratic, but the ANC meetings were lively with debate and discussion about Parliament, the pass laws, rents, bus fares—any subject under the sun that affected Africans.
a social policy of racial segregation
I befriended Tony O’Dowd and Harold Wolpe, who were political radicals and members of the Communist Party, and Jules Browde and his wife, who were liberal champions of the anti-apartheid cause.
an inspiration or divine manifestation
I had no
epiphany, no singular revelation, no moment of truth, but a steady accumulation of a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments, produced in me an anger, a rebelliousness, a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people.
put at risk
He enjoyed the relationships he had formed with the white establishment and did not want to
jeopardize them with political action.
marked by extreme care in treatment of details
They reminded us that the freedom struggle was not merely a question of making speeches, holding meetings, passing resolutions, and sending deputations, but of
meticulous organization, militant mass action, and, above all, the willingness to suffer and sacrifice.
characterized by rigidity and total uniformity
The often haphazard segregation of the past three hundred years was to be consolidated into a
monolithic system that was diabolical in its detail, inescapable in its reach, and overwhelming in its power.
serving or acting as a means or aid
The policy was supported by the Dutch Reform Church, which furnished apartheid with its religious underpinnings by suggesting that Afrikaners were God’s chosen people and that blacks were a
fair to all parties as dictated by reason and conscience
We advocated the re-division of land on an
equitable basis; the abolition of color bars prohibiting Africans from doing skilled work; and the need for free and compulsory education.
disposed or willing to comply
He was not very knowledgeable about the ANC nor was he an experienced activist, but he was respectable, and
amenable to our program.
the distinctive spirit of a culture or an era
Both laws epitomized the
ethos of the Nationalist government, which pretended to preserve what they were attempting to destroy.
spreading or spread throughout
This type of raid was something new and set a pattern for the
pervasive and illegal searches that subsequently became a regular feature of the government’s behavior.
the action of lessening in severity or intensity
The greatest jolt came when Dr. Moroka tendered a humiliating plea in
mitigation to Judge Rumpff and took the witness stand to renounce the very principles on which the ANC had been founded.