But the process of illusion and disillusionment is part of life and goes on endlessly. In the early 40s what struck me forcefully was the conflict between my expectations and actual experience. At College I had come to believe that as a graduate I would automatically be at the head, leading my people in all their efforts. In a sense that was true of the majority of the Fort Hare students. Many of them left the lecture room straight to some cosy job, with a steady income and carrying a measure of influence. It is also true that graduates do enjoy the respect of the community especially in the field of education. But my experience was quite different. I moved in circles where common sense and practical experience were important, and where high academic qualifications were not necessarily decisive. Hardly anything I had been taught at College seemed directly relevant in my new environment. The average teacher had fought shy of topics like racial oppression, lack of opportunity for the black man and the numerous indignities to which he is subjected in his daily life. None had ever briefed me on how we would finally remove the evils of colour prejudice, the books I should read in this connection and the political organisations I should join if I wanted to be part of a disciplined freedom movement. I had to learn all these things by mere chance and through trial and error.
Conversations with Myself