Peter Abrahams

Peter Abrahams

Biography

Author Profession:
Born: March 03, 1919
Age: 97 years old
Birth Sign: Pisces

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Peter Abrahams quotes

For me, personally, life in South Africa had come to an end. I had been lucky in some of the whites I had met. Meeting them had made a straight 'all-blacks-are-good, all-whites-are-bad' attitude impossible. But I had reached a point where the gestures of even my friends among the whites were suspect, so I had to go or be forever lost.

Must simplicity and humanity go under in the interest of progress? What is the most important component of civilization - is it human or mechanical? Must thought processes become involved and insincere? Must the class-struggle warp those who are involved in it?

You can't walk alone. Many have given the illusion, but none have really walked alone. Man is not made that way. Each man is bedded in his people, their history, their culture, and their values.

In the Caribbean islands, especially in Jamaica, have I found a country similar to South Africa plus the racial freedom I had sought so long.

In East, South and Central Africa, the minority manipulated the majority into believing the minority was the majority, that there were more whites in the world than blacks; instilled in the blacks a sense of inferiority, inadequacy, worthlessness.

Many have changed so much that they have lost the magic of the dream that carried them on their own bootstraps.

To get where you want to go you can't only do what you like.

I attended school regularly for three years. I learned to read and write. 'Lamb's Tales' from Shakespeare was my favourite reading matter. I stole, by finding, Palgrave's 'Golden Treasury.' These two books, and the 'Everyman' edition of John Keats, were my proudest and dearest possessions, my greatest wealth.

My mother was a member of the Cape Coloured community. 'Coloured' is the South African word for the half-caste community that was a by-product of the early contact between black and white.

The familiar mood that awaits the sensitive young who are poor and dispossessed is a mood of sharp and painful inferiority, of violently angry tensions, of desperate and overwhelming longings.

With Shakespeare and poetry, a new world was born. New dreams, new desires, a self consciousness was born. I desired to know to know myself in terms of the new standards set by these books.

All my life had been dominated by a sign, often invisible but no less real for that, which said: 'Reserved for Europeans Only.'

Joseph and his mother come from the black kings who were before the white man.

My mother went to work in the homes of white folk, usually living in and looking after their children. The money was small.

Perhaps life had a meaning that transcended race and colour. If it had, I could not find it in South Africa.

Positive social awareness among the South African educated half-caste is zero. Teaching is a mechanical job. The best way of earning a living.

A man can submit today in order to resist tomorrow. My submission had been such. And because I had not been free to show my real feeling, to voice my true thoughts, my submission had bred bitterness and anger. And there were nearly ten million others who had submitted with equal anger and bitterness.

Being born white in South Africa or anywhere in the empire and Commonwealth automatically conferred this special status. You had no problem finding a place to live, a job, trade union membership, access to social services. Being white, speaking English, you were accepted as English, entitled to all the rights of citizenship.

I read every one of the books on the shelf marked American Negro Literature. I became a nationalist, a colour nationalist, through the writings of men and women who lived a world away from me.

Marxism, communism, socialism - the ideologies - did not have the automatic answers to the problem of the relations between the lighter and darker races of mankind. They did not even have an answer to anti-Semitism.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi

One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life is, I think, to have a happy childhood. Agatha Christie

The only movie I can watch on a loop, over and over, is 'Help', the Beatles movie. It's so funny and irreverent and great. Emma Stone

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