The Long Walk to Freedom” è l’autobiografia dove Madiba racconta la sua lotta per portare il South Africa fuori dalla follia dell’apartheid: ieri sera ho cenato nella villa dove Nelson Mandela ha vissuto mentre stava scrivendo il libro. Emozionante vedere le decine di fotografie in bianco e nero, ed estratti del suo manoscritto.

Ho letto The Long Walk appena pubblicato, nel 1995 e l’ho trovato di una bellezza entusiasmante. Ve ne propongo un estratto:

On my way down to Thaba ‘Nchu I passed through Kroonstad a conservative Free State town about 120 miles south of Johannesburg. I was driving up a hill and saw two white boys ahead of me on bicycles. My driving was still a bit unsteady, and I came too close to them, one of whom suddenly made a turn without signalling and we collided. He was knocked off his bicycle and was groaning when I got out of the car to help him. He had his arms out, indicating that I should pick him up, but just as I was about to do so, a white truck driver yelled for me not to touch the boy. The truck driver scared the child, who then dropped his arms as though he did not want me to pick him up. The boy was not badly hurt, and the truck driver took him to the police station, which was close by.

The local police arrived a short time later, and the white sergeant took one look at me and said, “Kaffer,jy sal kak vandag!” (Kaffir, you will shit today!” I was shaken by the incident and the violence of his words, but I told him in no uncertain terms that I would not, and certainly would not just because a policeman had told me to. At this, the sergeant took out his notebook to record my particulars. Afrikaans policeman were surprised if a black man could speak English, much less answer back.

After I identified myself, he turned to the car, which he proceeded to ransack. From under the floor mat he pulled out a copy of the left-wing weekly, The Guardian, which I had hidden immediately after the accident. He looked at the title, and like a pirate with his booty cried “My word, we’ve caught a communist!

Four hours later he returned ….. “What is your name?”

“Mandela”, I said.
No, the first one,” he said I told him.
“Nelson”, the sergeant said, as if he were talking to a boy, “I want to help you resume your journey. But if you are going to be difficult with me I will have no alternative but to be difficult with you and lock you up for the night.” That brought me down to earth and I consented to everything.
I resumed my journey late that night, and the next morning I was travelling through the district of Excelsior when my car ground to a halt. I had run out of petrol. I walked to a nearby farmhouse and explained in English to an elderly white lady that I would like to buy some petrol. As she was closing the door, she said, “I don’t have any petrol for you.” I tramped two miles to the next farm, and chastened by my unsuccessful first effort, tried a different approach. I asked to see the farmer, and when he appeared I assumed a humble demeanour, “My baas has run out of petrol,” I said. (Baas, the Afrikaans word for boss or master, signifies subservience.) Friendly and helpful, the farmer helped me

Foto? La sera prima sono stato in un altro posto magico …

mart gc 4

It's been almost 50 years that I travel across the word (and the 7 seas), on business or vacation, but always carrying with me a Leica camera. I started keeping this kind of journal a while ago. Even if sometime I disappear for ages, I'm then coming back with semi-regular updates: publishing is a kind of mirroring of my state and emotions, and you need to take it as it is. All published photos are mine.

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