Top 28 Quotes of Peter Abrahams

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.

Peter Abrahams

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.

Peter Abrahams

We do not ask the right questions when we are young, so we miss the important answers. Now it is too late to ask, too late for the illuminating answers, and the unanswered questions haunt us for a lifetime.

Peter Abrahams

Tribal man is not an individual in the western sense. Psychologically and emotionally, he is the present living personification of a number of forces, among the most important of which are the ancestral dead.

Peter Abrahams

To have the ability to destroy all and not to do it was one of the hard tests humanity passed – but only just – in the middle of the twentieth century.

Peter Abrahams

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

Peter Abrahams

There is a qualitative difference between being a minority and being a majority. Majorities are stronger under psychological pressure because numbers count. But only if they are aware of it.

Peter Abrahams

The racism of the Nazis threatened to make whatever we had experienced look like child’s play. If they could be so brutal to the Jews, what would they do to the blacks? So large numbers of black young men and women rallied to the defence of the empire.

Peter Abrahams

The only places where I have found that simple human dignity, that respect for the other man, and the gracious feel of tolerance and humanity have not been either among the heroes of the class-struggle or the ‘thinking men’ but among my simple ‘backward’ people.

Peter Abrahams

The London I entered was a great bustling metropolitan city at war, an imperial power fighting to hold on to that empire. And the teeming colonial subjects of that empire did not, on the whole, want England to lose that war, but they also did not want the empire to emerge unchanged from it. This, for very many of us, was the hard dilemma.

Peter Abrahams

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.

Peter Abrahams

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

Peter Abrahams

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

Peter Abrahams

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

Peter Abrahams

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.

Peter Abrahams

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?

Peter Abrahams

Most of the black women who lived in the lower end of Vrededorp came from the countryside and were there to be near their menfolk who worked in the mines. They spoke neither English nor Afrikaans.

Peter Abrahams

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.

Peter Abrahams

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

Peter Abrahams

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

Peter Abrahams

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.

Peter Abrahams

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.

Peter Abrahams

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.

Peter Abrahams

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.

Peter Abrahams

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.

Peter Abrahams

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.

Peter Abrahams

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

Peter Abrahams

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.

Peter Abrahams