Buntu Quotes in Sizwe Bansi Is Dead
STYLES: Always helping people. If that man was white they’d call him a liberal.
MAN: I don’t want to leave Port Elizabeth.
BUNTU: Maybe. But if that book says go, you go.
MAN: Can’t I maybe burn this book and get a new one?
BUNTU: Burn that book? Stop kidding yourself, Sizwe! Anyway, suppose you do. You must immediately go apply for a new one. Right? And until that new one comes, be careful the police don’t stop you and ask for your book. Into the Courtroom, brother. Charge: Failing to produce Reference Book on demand. Five rand or five days.
BUNTU: I’m also married. One child.
MAN: Only one?
BUNTU: Ja, my wife attends this Birth Control Clinic rubbish. The child is staying with my mother.
BUNTU: That’s it, brother. The only time we’ll find peace is when they dig a hole for us and press our face into the earth.
MAN: It will tell you in good English where he stays. My passbook talks good English too . . . big words that Sizwe can’t read and doesn’t understand. Sizwe wants to stay here in New Brighton and find a job; passbook says, ‘No! Report back.’
Sizwe wants to feed his wife and children; passbook says, ‘No.’
MAN: [Turning away from Buntu to the audience.]
What’s happening in this world, good people? Who cares for who in this world? Who wants who?
Who wants me, friend? What’s wrong with me? I’m a man. I’ve got eyes to see. I’ve got ears to listen when people talk. I’ve got a head to think good things. What’s wrong with me?
[Starts to tear off his clothes.]
Look at me! I’m a man. I’ve got legs. I can run with a wheelbarrow full of cement! I’m strong! I’m a man. Look! I’ve got a wife. I’ve got four children. How many has he made, lady? [The man sitting next to her.] Is he a man? What has he got that I haven’t . . . .?
MAN: [handing it over]. Take it, Buntu. Take this book and read it carefully, friend, and tell me what it says about me. Buntu, does that book tell you I’m a man?
[Buntu studies the two books. Sizwe turns back to the audience.]
That bloody book . . . ! People, do you know? No! Wherever you go . . . it’s that bloody book. You go to school, it goes too. Go to work, it goes too. Go to church and pray and sing lovely hymns, it sits there with you. Go to hospital to die, it lies there too!
BUNTU: It’s your only chance!
MAN: No, Buntu! What’s it mean? That me, Sizwe Bansi . . .
BUNTU: Is dead.
MAN: I’m not dead, friend.
BUNTU: We burn this book . . . [Sizwe’s original] . . . and Sizwe Bansi disappears off the face of the earth.
BUNTU: When the white man sees you walk down the street and calls out, ‘Hey, John! Come here’ . . . to you, Sizwe Bansi . . . isn’t that a ghost? Or when his little child calls you ‘Boy’ . . . you a man, circumcised, with a wife and four children . . . isn’t that a ghost? Stop fooling yourself. All I’m saying is be a real ghost, if that is what they want, what they’ve turned us into.
BUNTU [angry]. All right! Robert, John, Athol, Winston . . . Shit on names, man! To hell with them if in exchange you can get a piece of bread for your stomach and a blanket in winter.