Cry Freedom was one of the melancholic story written by John Briley and simplified by Rowena Akinyemi. It was first published in 1989 by Oxford University Press. The story is divided into 18 chapters.
Just as the title, the story portrays the life of Donald Woods, whose friend is an African activist fighting for the freedom of South Africa.
The story begins with Donald Woods received the photos of the polices raid on Crossroads from Ken Robertson. As an editor of the Daily Dispatch and a former law students (he had been trained as a lawyer) , Mr. Woods did not support the police’s brutality toward the black people; however, he approved the idea of separating the blacks from the whites. He used the photos that he received from Ken in his publication, as a result he received a lot of phone call from the police threatening for his life.
On top of that, in the newspaper, Mr. Woods also wrote about Steve Biko and his black consciousness. Mr. Woods believed that Steve Biko was a thread to the society and he was a racist who ideas were dangerous as it aimed to segregate the blacks from the whites. Right after he published the newspaper, Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, matched into his office and talked to him in an anger and confident manner. She convinced him to visit Steve Biko by saying that “I know you’re not a fool, Mr. Woods, but you are uninformed. Steve Biko is one of the few people who can still save South Africa. He’s in King William’s Town-that’s his banning area.”
Because of Mrs. Mamphela’s words and confidence, Mr. Woods decided to go to King William’s Town to visit Steve Biko. He was surprised as he arrived there because it was the place where white people lived. Ringing the rusty bell, a black woman opened the door and greeted him warmly. The woman was Ntsiki, Biko’s wife. As he walked into the church, he saw some men and women painting the walls, making children’s toys and sewing something. He also saw a library of old books and magazines. Mrs. Ntsiki told him that they’re trying to create a center for black people to learn something and get information about jobs.
Once he arrived at the side door, Ntiski told him that her husband was waiting for him, so he walked in the church yard feeling annoyed that no one was there. Then he saw Steve Biko behind a tree. He followed Biko. As they both entered the office, Biko told him that he would have met him at the church, but the system allowed him to visit only one person at the time. After that they both discussed about the term liberal and Biko called Mr. Wood a true liberal. Responding to what Biko said, Woods stated that “I wonder what kind of liberal you would make, Mr Biko, if you were the one who possessed the house, the job, the Mercedes – and the whites lived in the township.”
After the discussion in Biko’s house, they both traveled to a clinic at Zanemphelo. This clinic was opened and operated by black people and this amazed Mr. Woods. Because of wanting to mock Biko, Woods said that “So if you had a white “liberal” doctor working here, that wouldn’t serve your purpose?” This phrase made Biko respond quickly. He said that “When I was a student, I suddenly realized that it wasn’t just the job I was studying for that was white, The history we read was made by white men, written by white men. Television, medicine, cars, all invented by white men. Even football. In a world like that, it is hard not to believe that there is something inadequate about being born black. I began to think that this feeling was a bigger problem that the things the system does to us.” This phrase touched Mr. Woods’s feeling and he somehow agreed with it. After having a discussion with Mr. Biko, Woods decided to go to the black township with him.
Upon the arrival in the black township, the atmosphere was completely different from what Woods thought. The road were dusty and their were insufficient of electricity supply. The lamp were hung in front of the house, the smoke from woods fire was all over the place, the people’s express were tired and senseless, there were even groups of gangsters and such. The atmosphere their were so chaotic.
Walking into such place, Biko told Woods that he was brought up in this town as his father died when he was seventeen. Biko tried to penetrate Woods about his black consciousness by asserting that “you see their houses, their streets, their cars. And you begin to feel there is something not quite right about you. Something to do with your blackness. Because no matter how stupid or how clever a white child is, he is born into his white world. But you, the black child, clever or stupid, are born into this… and, clever or stupid you will die in it…” As Biko tried to explain to Woods, Woods understood it and felt the emptiness inside Woods’s words.
As time went by, they both went to eat at Tenjy Mtintso’s house. After the dinner, all members in the house include Tenjy, Mapetla, John, Tenjy’s uncle, Biko and Woods had the discussion. Everyone told Woods about the life of African. The song and the beautiful culture that they had, the culture of sharing, the culture of tiding up the born in the family, and the culture of peace. However Mr. Woods was not convinced until Biko stated “and your real achievement is that for years you’re convinced most of us of that idea. In fact, our case is very simple. We believe in an intelligent God. We believe that he knew what he was doing when he created the black man. Just as he created the white man…”
Six weeks after Woods went back from the black township, he accepted Tenjy Mtintson and Mapetla Mohapi to work in his office. He invited Ken, his co-worker, to go watch a black football match. At the location, Mzimbi, another black activist, gave a speech about the inequality and the discrimination that the blacks received from the whites. He called for violation; Mzimbi believed that the best way to deal with the issue was to fight back the system. Right after Mzimbi finished his speech, Biko began to give his. He asserted that “We have the right to be angry, but let us remember we are in this struggle not to kill someone but to kill the idea that one kind of man is better than another kind of man. Killing that idea does not depend on the white man. We must stop looking to the white man to give us anything we have got to fill the black community with our won pride-not something the white man gives us, but something we made out of our own. Then we will stand up to him in anyway he chooses. Confrontation if he likes, but an open hand, too-to say that we can both build a South Africa worth living in. A South Africa for equal men-black or white. A South Africa as beautiful as this land is, as beautiful as we are!” This phrase received a lot of support from the white, Ken and Woods, and the blacks.
After the foot ball visitation, Biko was arrested on the warrant of breaching the law as he went outside his banning area. Captain De Wet was the one who arrested him. He even hit Biko. In the court Biko was question about his black consciousness and his confrontation method. The prosecutor accused him of calling for violent confrontation as he used the word terrorism in his document. However, Biko intrepidly replied back to the prosecutor that “I am not talking about words, I am talking about violence-about police beating people, about police shooting people. I am talking about people starving in the township. I am talking about desperate and hopeless people. I think all that amounts to more terrorism that the words the defendants have spoken. But they stand charged in this court and white society is not charged.” Biko even mocked the prosecutor by saying that they white people did so little good deeds that it was not worth noticing. He explained to the judges and prosecutor about his non-violent confrontation by asserting that he and the prosecutor were now confronting yet he saw no violence and that made the crowd became cheerful.
A few days after the trial ended, the church that Biko transformed into a center were destroyed by Captain De Wet. Wendy, Woods’s wife, suggested Woods to visit Kruger, a minister of police and reported the incident. Woods did so. He went to Pretoria to visit Kruger and he was warmly welcome by Kruger. They had bit of discussion about Steve Biko as well as the incident. This reassured Woods that Kruger would corporate with them.
However, once Woods went back home, the police arrived at his house and ask for the name of the witness. The police even said they got the order from the top meaning that Kruger were the man behind it. Woods felt deceived and he asked the police for a warrant, yet they did not have anything. The police tried all ugly threats to make Woods state the name of the witness. At the end, the police arrested Mapetla. A few days later, the police came to Daily Dispatch Newspaper Office again and arrested Tenji. Woods who was in the situation asked the police why they arrestd Tenji. The police responded “There are no charges. We don’t need charges.”
After Tenji was arrested, in that evening, Woods received the news that Mapetla was died as he hang himself. Biko asked for the inquest and he received it. Wilfred Cooper agreed to represent Mapetaa’s family and biko. The main witness at the inquest was Tenjy. She was questioned about her thoughts of the death of Mapetla. She showed the judges about the torture that she and Mapetla received from the police. Albeit at the end, the judge still concluded that “The inquest finds that blame for Mapetla Mohapi’s death can be fixed on non one. The inquest closed.”
Even after Mapetla died, Biko still decided to go to Cape town. He was arrested by the police as he stepped out of his banning area. Six days later, the police drove a car through a forest to Walmer police station. In the car, there was an motionless body of Biko. The doctor arrived and examined the body. “The body was covered with bruises, the forehead and eyes seriously injured. There were cuts on his chest and lips. The doctor examined the prisoner’s eyes: he was deeply unconscious. The doctor lifted one arm; it fell back lifelessly. I was obvious that a doctor should have seen the prisoner much sooner. ”
Despite a severe injury, the police did not consider sending Biko to a nearby hospital for a palliation. As the result, Steve Biko was died. It shook the whole country.
Unable to watch the unjust situation in South Africa, Woods wrote something about Steve Biko and wanted to publish the photo of the dead body of Steve Biko. At the end, he realized that what he wrote was about Biko’s ideas. However, Woods was not able to write peacefully as he now became a banned person as well. He was banned to meet with more than one person at a time, except for members of his family for five years. He was also forbidden to enter any printing offices of any kind. However, Mr. Woods still determined to write a book. With the help of his daughter, he was able to finish writing it.
Albeit, Woods could not publish it. He had a lot of arguments with his wife whenever he talked about the publication of his books. His wife were afraid of the security of the family, whereas Woods wanted to demand for justice for Steve Biko and Mapetla. However, at the end of the day, Wendy supported the idea of publishing the book as the police used a cheap trick by putting the poison powder on the t-shirt and Jane wore it and it slightly injured his eyes.
In order to publish the book, Woods used a trick to deceived the minders. He disguised himself as a priest and went to Lesotho. With the help of the neighboring country, he was able to escape and published the book.