When I reported from South Africa in the 1960s, the Nazi admirer B J Vorster occupied the prime minister?s residence in Cape Town. Thirty years later, as I waited at the gates, it was as if the guards had not changed. White Afrikaners checked my ID with the confidence of men in secure work. One carried a copy of?Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela?s autobiography. ?It?s very eenspirational,? he said. Continue reading “Nelson Mandela?s greatness may be assured ? but not his legacy”
The first photograph, taken by Peter Magubane, the renowned black South African photographer whose visual documentation of apartheid earned him the tribute of being a “one man truth squad? — had shocked me.
I saw it first in Drik’s 2004 calendar. The picture was accompanied by the words of ?another South African, the internationally acclaimed, award winning playwright and poet Sindiwe Magona. As many of her readers know, Sindiwe had worked as a domestic before earning a graduate degree from Columbia University,
“Father worked in the gold mines of Johannesburg before I was born. I was in my thirties when I first laid eyes on Peter Magubane’s book of photos of “mine boys”. That book angered and disgusted me. But it wasn’t till I came to the corresponding part of my father’s life that a mule kicked me full in the belly. All this time, more than two decades after, the despicable things those photos depicted: grown men “naked as unpodded beans… dusted with sprayings of “DDT” and forced to show their anuses, regular inspection against theft of precious stones” — the vicious truth never penetrated my defences. Continue reading “Post-apartheid South Africa kills its miners”
OK. I’ll admit it. I do have a soft spot for older women. My grandmother, my mother, Shejokhalamma, Chotokhalamma, Chotomami, Sufia Khala (poet Sufia Kamal), Didi (Mahasweta Devi) were all pretty special. All in their eighties or so. I can’t be entirely to blame though. When a woman says, “I’ve been waiting for you all day. I’ll wait all night. You must come.” How can one say no? Especially if it’s a woman you haven’t even met. And Fatima Meer was some woman. Continue reading “67 Minutes for Madiba”