When people said Africa would change me, I didn't understand what they meant. To see the poverty in the townships, for instance, is overwhelming. I found it heart-wrenching to see young children walking barefoot and hungry in the dirt. I'm the kind of person who wants to change the world right here and now, so I got frustrated.
In the United States, except for slaves, servants and the destitute fed by townships, everyone has the vote and this is an indirect contributor to law-making. Anyone wishing to attack the law is thus reduced to adopting one of two obvious courses: they must either change the nation's opinion or trample its wishes under foot.
Alexis de Tocqueville
In a lot of the really impoverished areas of Johannesburg you see these packets of cheesy puffs which are like 6 feet long and the width of a basketball, and they're transparent and they have like 10,000 cheesy puffs in them, and you can buy that for like 50 cents. It's kind of a weird treat that you'd see people having in the townships.
In 1694 a law was passed "that every settler who deserted a town for fear of the Indians should forfeit all his rights therein." But now, at any rate, as I have frequently observed, a man may desert the fertile frontier territories of truth and justice, which are the State's best lands, for fear of far more insignificant foes, without forfeiting any of his civil rights therein. Nay, townships are granted to deserters, and the General Court, as I am sometimes inclined to regard it, is but a deserters' camp itself.
Henry David Thoreau
There were many deficits in our swamp education, but Grandpa Sawtooth, to his credit, taught us the names of whole townships that had been forgotten underwater. Black pioneers, Creek Indians, moonshiners, women, 'disappeared' boy soldiers who deserted their army camps. From Grandpa we learned how to peer beneath the sea-glare of the 'official, historical' Florida records we found in books. "Prejudice, " as defined by Sawtooth Bigtree, was a kind of prehistoric arithmetic-a "damn, fool math"-in which some people counted and others did not. It meant white names on white headstones in the big cemetery in Cypress Point, and black and brown bodies buried in swamp water. At ten, I couldn't articulate much but I got the message: to be a true historian, you had to mourn amply and well.