– Triumph Against Adversary Essay, Research Paper
“The most potent weapon of the oppressor is in the mind of the oppressed? ? Steve Biko
Triumph means to be victorious or successful and an adversary is someone you compete against or fight, like an enemy. So to triumph against your adversary is to defeat your enemy. ?The Power of One? and ?Cry Freedom? are two different stories, written by two different people, but both have the theme ?Triumph Against Adversity?. Both of the stories were set in South Africa during the times of a white ruled government where black people were considered inferior to white man and were treated so.
?The Power of One?, written by Bryce Courtney, is about a young boy (Peekay) who stands up to racism in the white-ruled South Africa of the 1940?s.
At the young age of five, Peekay was sent to boarding school where he received endless torment from the other kids because he was the only English person there. After years of ill treatment from the leader of the kids, the judge, and his young followers, Peekay finally decided to stand up for himself. This is an example of how Peekay triumphed against his adversaries.
After boarding school, at the age of six, Peekay was sent back to live with his family. There he befriended Professor Von Vollensteen (Doc), a German man who was a teacher of music. Not long after they met, Doc was arrested by police, suspected of being a German spy. At the court hearing, the Judge declared that Doc be acquitted of all spy charges. However he was charged with being an unregistered alien and the court ordered that he be detained for the duration of the war. He was sent to Barberton Prison where he was one of few white men there.
Peekay regularly visited Doc at the prison. It was obvious to Peekay on his first visit to the prison that black people were considered inferior to white people. Because Doc was white, he was treated well and given special privileges that no black man would ever receive. These privileges were also granted because the Kommandmant wanted Doc to play the piano at the bi-annual visit of the inspector of prisons. So to keep Doc happy until the concert, he could do almost as he pleased. Because Doc allowed do his own thing, he had triumphed against his adversary.
At Barberton Prison, there was a boxing team that Peekay eagerly joined. This would give him the opportunity to visit Doc more often and to improve his chances of one day becoming welterweight champion of the world.
At the prison, all the black people were separated into tribal groups so that there were not any disturbances caused by differences. However, there was one man who did not belong to any one group, he was a mixture of different tribes. This man was Geel Piet.
Geel Piet, being the grand master in the art of camouflage, ran the prison black market, supplying tobacco, sugar, salt and cannabis to prisoners. He also knew a lot about boxing.
Peekay got to know Geel Piet from his visits with Doc. Geel Piet would be in the hall polishing the floors and when it was safe to do so, he would talk to Peekay and Doc.
During Peekay?s boxing lessons, Geel Piet would be in the gymnasium polishing the floor or cleaning windows. However, he gradually worked his way up becoming the laundry boy and eventually, when his boxing knowledge was discovered, being given an unofficial boxing job, supervising the kids progress. Geel Piet triumphed against his adversaries when he gained some respect from a few of the prison warders.
Lt Borman however, resented the freedom Geel Piet had achieved in the gymnasium under Captain Smit. He constantly made it clear that he thought the freedom of Geel Piet would lead to trouble. But despite his ?warnings?, Captain Smit did not dismiss Geel Piet from his boxing duties.
On the night of a concert held for the prisoners, Geel Piet was killed. Beaten to death by Lt Borman.
While Peekay was visiting the prison, Geel Piet, Mrs Boxall (librarian), Doc and Peekay took advantage of Peekay?s easy access to the prison and started a letter writing campaign for the black prisoners who couldn?t see their families. This proved a big success and eventually, permission was granted by the prison to run the campaign.
Mrs Boxall also started the ?Earl of Sandwich Fund? which gained cast-off clothes from people and supplied the black families of the prisoners with clothes.
This is an example of how the black prisoners, with the help of Peekay, Doc and Mrs Boxall, triumphed against their adversaries.
?Cry Freedom? is a true story about Steve Biko; a black man who was considered a threat as a political activist to the white-ruled government in South Africa during the 1970?s. Because of this, he was officially ?banned?, prohibited from exercising basic human rights and from publishing his views.
Biko became friends with white journalist Donald Woods who, once he had listened to what Biko had to say and saw the living conditions of the black communities, was determined to do something to stop black people from being treated poorly in society. It is because of this that I think Woods is like Peekay from ?The Power of One?. They both realise that there is a problem in South Africa and decide to take on the injustices of the country. They both help others less fortunate than themselves to overcome their oppressors.
Woods endeavoured to spread Biko?s message across South Africa, becoming a threat to the government, and was eventually banned by the government?s special police.
However, this did not stop Biko and Woods from spreading Biko?s message across the country and making people aware of the way black people were being treated.
Biko was caught breaching his ?ban? and was sent to prison. Not long after, he was killed. However, at the time the government said he had died as a result of a hunger strike.
The deaths of both Biko and Geel Piet from ?The Power of One? make their characters very similar. Not only because they were both killed by their enemies, but also because they were two characters that had gained respect and friendship from a minority of the ?superior? race (including Woods and Peekay), and were well respected by their own people.
After Biko?s death, Woods and his family escaped from South Africa to England with the help of Father Kani. Father Kani and Mrs Boxall (The ?Power of One?) are alike because they are both background characters who have an influence on the main characters, Woods and Peekay, who are fighting for a ?just? society.
In England, Woods published the truth about Biko, so the world was aware of the problems that faced black people in South Africa.
Woods triumphed against his adversaries by helping Biko spread his message across the country even when he was banned, and by escaping to England to publish the truth about Biko.