Bryce Courtenay - Power of One - Peekay speaking eulogy for Geel Piet.

Essay by ellyjean November 2003

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There are many people that have made an enormous impact on my life to date. My childhood Zulu Nanny was the first to give me what all humans need, unconditional and unreserved love. The legendary Zulu medicine man, Inkosi Inkosikasi, endowed me with a mental refuge, a place where I could draw on my inner strength to overcome any obstacles. It was a Jewish shoe-store owner by the name of Harry Crown that christened me Peekay, a far more respectable name for a young man than my boarding school nickname. Hoppie Groenewald, the Railways Champion of the Transvaal, gave me the dream to become the next Welterweight Champion of the World and told me the way to achieve it, "First with the head and then with the heart". Our resident musician and cacti fanatic, Professor Von Vollensteen, or Doc, continues to instil in me a love of music, a love of learning and a love of Africa.

As you can tell, I have been very fortunate in my friends and mentors so far in my life. However, though all the people I have mentioned gave me great gifts, they are all intangible. As well as teaching me perseverance, resilience and how to play the system, someone gave me the very best boxing coaching as well. We knew the man who gave me all of this as Geel Piet and I am honoured to be able to speak at his funeral today.

We are gathered here in the Barberton Prison cemetery to say good-bye to Geel Piet. Very little is known about his life before he became a somewhat permanent fixture at this prison. Geel Piet was, as his name implies, a Cape Coloured man, neither black nor white, born in Cape Town's District 6. He was highly institutionalised having...