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How can I relate this Camus quote to South African Apartheid? "Don't walk behind me; I...

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evarhoads | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 21, 2013 at 6:41 PM via web

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How can I relate this Camus quote to South African Apartheid?

"Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.
Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend."
- Albert Camus (French Nobel Prize winning author, journalist, and philosopher)

Tagged with apartheid, literature

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 23, 2013 at 3:52 PM (Answer #1)

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Camus' quote can be used to express what anti- Apartheid resistance sought to achieve. Organizations like the African National Congress as well as individuals like Steve Biko felt that the best way to overcome the terrors of Apartheid was to enlist more people in its resistance.  These pioneers did not seek to find more leaders.  They did not need more leadership from outside sources.  They needed individuals.  The Anti- Apartheid movement was rooted in the idea that if more people could join in speaking out against the government that facilitated state- sponsored terrorism, there would be a greater chance it could be overcome.  Collective voice in resisting the terrors of Apartheid would lead to its ultimate demise.

The Camus quote speaks to this idea.  It does not seek to find more leaders.  The quote also does not speak to the need of developing more followers.  The quote defines power as individuals with shared beliefs voicing these convictions in a partnership.  "Walk beside me and be my friend"  is a stunning call to action.  This clarion call was something that Anti- Apartheid forces sought.  They felt that their success would be more evident if they could simply get more people to "walk beside" them and believe in them as a "friend" would.  It is here where I think that the Camus quote can be connected to the terrors of South African Apartheid.

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