Power of One

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Chapter One
Summary
On his Granpa's farm in the province of Natal in South Africa, an unnamed blonde infant is suckled by his black Zulu nanny. She sings to him of warriors and women washing at the baboons' water hole. At five, the little boy's mother has a nervous breakdown and he is sent to an Afrikaans boarding school. He is the youngest student by two years, and is hated because he is the only English-speaker in the school, which makes him a "rooinek" (Afrikaans for "redneck," a derogatory term for the British, inherited from the Boer War).Two eleven-year-olds put the little boy to trial - he is made to kneel naked in the shower, where he says a prayer to his Zulu nanny instead of to God. The Judge, along with his "council of war", pee on the boy. The little boy has never seen a shower before - his nanny always washed him in a tin tub. The matron of the hostel, simply called "Mevrou" ("Missus" in Afrikaans), smells the pee on the boy and drags him to the showers. She switches on the cold faucet, but the boy thinks that she too must be peeing on him. The Judge asks the boy why he wets his bed. The boy cannot answer. The Judge pulls down the boy's pants, and the kids all look and laugh at his "hatless snake" - his circumcised penis. They all chant "pisskop" ("pisshead"), which becomes his nickname. The Judge now displays his own large, uncircumcised penis.The little boy manages to whittle the tortures down to one hour a day. His bedwetting still lingers, however, causing him shame and misery. Mevrou examines his bed every morning and sends him to wash the rubber sheet until his hands reek of the carbolic soap. The boy learns that he needs to adopt a camouflage in order to cope. As part of this camouflage, he resolves never to cry. This decision infuriates the Judge. The boy gains some respect from the other kids for holding the school record for the largest number of beatings, yet they continue to ostracize and torment him verbally and physically. At the end of

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