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Albie Sachs

Constitutional Court of South Africa

We'd heard about Mozambique -- Samora Machel, FRELIMO, the Front for Liberation in Mozambique. They declared independence, June the 25th, 1975. It gave a huge fillip to the struggle in South Africa. People now started using the word viva. "Viva! Viva!" Viva this, that and the other. In South Africa, they took over the Portuguese word, "A luta " they would say, " continua," (the struggle continues) from the Mozambiquan struggle -- became used in South Africa, and I wanted to see this country. The minute my foot touched the tarmac of the airport, I knew, this is where I'm going to be happy. It was the light, the vegetation, the people. That separation from a context that you'd grown up in, involuntary, that gets to you. I was back again. I was back in Africa. I was close to my country. The energy. The problems were my problems.
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Albie Sachs

Constitutional Court of South Africa

I was at the very first meeting in Cape Town, when one of the leaders of the African National Congress, named Johnson Ngwavela, voluntarily defied an order -- we called it "the banning order" -- put upon him, placed on him by the Minister of Justice, prohibiting him from attending any political gatherings. And he came into this little hall, and we all stood up and sang, and we sang freedom songs. It was a very emotional moment, and they called for volunteers to join the Defiance Campaign. And I was dying to volunteer. And my friend Wolfie Kodesh with me, he said, "Shhh, shhh. No, no, Albie, whites can't join." I said, "Why can't whites join? It's a non-racial struggle against racism." He says, "No, no, no, you can't." I remember holding onto the seat, clinging onto it to prevent myself from being hurled up with all the others rushing to sign that they wanted to be volunteers. And he said, "Look, I'll speak to some of the leaders and we'll see." And it was only in December, so that several months afterwards a small group of whites, four whites in Cape Town, were allowed by the organization to join. Looking back now, I can see, of course, it had to be a struggle by the oppressed black people, manifested under their own leadership, organized by themselves. And then whites could come in at a later stage to demonstrate that very point. But at the time it really hurt me as a young, anti-racist idealist.
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Oliver Sacks

Neurologist and Author

Oliver Sacks: I saw it soon after I had come back from this chaotic and really awful period in the country. And the periodic table, with its arrangement of all the elements in a sort of beautiful vertical and horizontal way, seemed to me a wonderful -- I mean, although I knew the periodic table was a human invention, I thought, "This is the way the elements organize themselves. This is the way God thinks. This is a cosmic order." And the beauty of the table and the sense of it affected my greatly. It corresponded with everything in chemistry. Of course one didn't know why the elements should have the characters they did or why they should be related. Mendeleyev, who made the table, didn't know, but was sure that things would be confirmed later, as of course they were. But the periodic table stands for me for, as it were, the beauty of scientific truth and scientific construction, and also the beauty of the natural world and the way in which simplicity and number at least seem to command the physical world.
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Jonas Salk

Developer of Polio Vaccine

Jonas Salk: As a child I was not interested in science. I was merely interested in things human, the human side of nature, if you like, and I continue to be interested in that. That's what motivates me. And, in a way it's the human dimension that has intrigued me.
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