“Twenty-seven years I have been a prisoner here on Robben Island. Twen-ty
sev-en. And now I am to be a free man very soon. My time has come. After my
incarceration I am exonerated, I am indefatigable, they have not beaten me. I am the
same man. But you Winnie – oh Winnie, Winnie, my sweetest love – somehow you
look different.

“Oh, Nelson, you know I am a bear of very little brain and long words bother me.”

“Hmmm. You do seem very different Winnie, your voice, everything. But I have been here a long time I suppose. Ah well, no matter. It is you and me now Winnie. Let us prepare to lead our country! Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.”

“Yes, oh yes! Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want
kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness
as Roo.”

“And education. Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to
change the world.”

“But this writing business, pencils and what-not. Over-rated, if you ask me. Silly
stuff. Nothing in it.”

“But education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education
that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can
become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a
great nation.”

“I suppose you are right, Nelson. To the uneducated an A is just three sticks. My
spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong
places.”

“We must use words to our advantage, Winnie. If you talk to a man in a language
he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to
his heart.”

“But, if the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It
may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

“Er, true. Nearly time. I can hear the guards approach. But there is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.”

“And you must always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on
a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.”

“We’ll need money, but money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will. There
is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one
you are capable of living.

“Nelson, don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

“Hmmm. Winnie, I have learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers
that fear.”

“It is hard to be brave, when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”

“And time. Time is of the essence. We must use time wisely and forever realise that the
time is always ripe to do right.”

“When late morning rolls around and you’re feeling a bit out of sorts, don’t worry, you’re probably just a little eleven o’clockish.”

“Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all. That is what I shall tell the people.”

“Tell them also, when having a smackerel of something with a friend, don’t eat
so much that you get stuck in the doorway trying to get out.”

“People are excited, Winnie. I can hear drums, music. The curious beauty of African
music is that it uplifts even as it tells a sad tale. You may be poor, you may have
only a ramshackle house, you may have lost your job, but that song gives you hope.
African music is often about the aspirations of the African people, and it can ignite
political resolve.”

“Well, if you want to make a song more hummy, add a few tiddely poms.”

“I think racialism is barbaric. I think a good head and good heart is a formidable combination, I think..”

“Did you ever stop to think and never start again.”

“… I think that there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way
in which it treats its children. That… but here is the guard, here is my freedom. Come
Winnie, let us change the world.”

“Yes Nelson. You can’t stay in your corner of the forest, waiting for others to come
to you; you have to go to them sometimes.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Neither person knew they were being taped. Only on a few occasions in the conversation did the sound quality falter. At those times I have, in good faith, linked what are otherwise well known direct quotes from the characters involved. I am satisfied as to the veracity of the tape.)

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