Saturday, 25 September 2010


I like to read several books at the same time (not to mention things directly related to teaching and research). At the moment I am trying to read, amongst other things, Achmat Dangor's "Bitter Fruit", and Stephen Clingman's "Bram Fischer". I am struggling with the latter, and had to give up on the former. Achmat Dangor's book in particular brings up too many bad memories: old stuff from South Africa is coming up in bad dreams.

This rarely happened before. Perhaps the crap from Pietermaritzburg (1987-1994) affected me more than I wanted to admit to myself: after all, nothing 'bad' ever happened to me. I never got detained and tortured; I never got shot or beaten up. I was so irrelevant to the regime that they did not even trouble themselves to deport me. Even with the few close calls included, when I managed to duck in time, run faster than the gunmen from Inkatha [1], or when Felicity smoothly found the reverse gear in her ancient Ford Escort, just in the nick of time to get us away from an Inkatha mob picking up stones to kill us - I was never injured. No physical scars, anyhow.

I know I am not a courageuous person by nature; there were years when I had a knot in my stomach every time I drove into Imbali township - I often had to fight the urge to stay behind. I guess that is why I refused to admit that the apartheid era could have damaged me. Thousands got killed, many more detained and tortured - what right do I have to feel troubled?

Where I am going with this? Heaven knows.

[1] Gerhard Mare & Georgina Hamilton, An appetite for power: Buthelezi's Inkatha and South Africa;
Monika Wittenberg, Einfach nichts tun, das geht auch nicht! Aus einem s├╝dafrikanischen Tagebuch: Aufzeichnungen und Briefe, 1985-1989;
The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Videotape Collection.