As an attorney, I could be rather flamboyant in court. I did not act as though I were a black man in a white man’s court, but as if everyone else – white and black – was a guest in my court. When trying a case, I often made sweeping gestures and used high-flown language.
I realized quickly what Mandela and Tambo meant to ordinary Africans. It was a place where they could come and find a sympathetic ear and a competent ally, a place where they would not be either turned away or cheated, a place where they might actually feel proud to be represented by men of their own skin color.
In the 1940s, traveling for an African was a complicated process. All Africans over the age of sixteen were compelled to carry ‘Native passes’ issued by the Native Affairs Department and were required to show that pass to any white policeman, civil servant, or employer. Failure to do so could mean arrest, trial, a jail sentence or fine.
At the outset, I want to say that the suggestion that the struggle in South Africa is under the influence of foreigners or communists is wholly incorrect. I have done whatever I did because of my experience in South Africa and my own proudly felt African background, and not because of what any outsider might have said.