They let you make one phone call, and I called the Ugandan Ambassador in Washington, DC, talked to him, and he said, “What are you doing interfering in the affairs of a foreign country?” I said, “What? We just got our independence! This is the same struggle. Have you forgotten?” Anyway, he got me out.
Two or three weeks later, I was in my room. There was a knock at the door. Two gentlemen in trench coats and hats said, “FBI.” I thought, “Wow, just like on television.” They sat down. They were there to find out why I had gone – because this turned out to be big – it is after Montgomery that King organized his march on Selma. They wanted to know who had influenced me. After one hour of probing, the guy said, “Do you like Marx?”
I said, “I haven’t met him.”
Guy said, “No, no, he’s dead.”
“Wow, what happened?”
“No, no, he died long ago.”
I thought the guy Marx had just died. So then, “Why are you asking me if he died long ago?”
“No, he wrote a lot. He wrote that poor people should not be poor.”
I said, “Sounds amazing.”
I’m giving you a sense of how naïve I was. After they left, I went to the library to look for Marx. So that was my introduction to Karl Marx … The FBI.
-- Mahmood Mamdani