Archive for February, 2010

Somewhat of a Review” of the Film: ‘CATCH A FIRE’ * and Sharing a few Personal Thoughts on Forgiveness

February 8, 2010
“Somewhat of a Review” of the Film: ‘CATCH A FIRE’ * and Sharing a few Personal Thoughts  on Forgiveness
* (written by Shawn Slovo and her producer sister, Robyn)
Shared by Craig Lock
Key words: books, films, ‘Catch A Fire’, inspiration, South Africa, Patrick Chamusso, Shawn and Robyn Slovo, Forgiveness
Other Articles by the submitter are available at: http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/user/15565  and http://www.ideamarketers.com/library/profile.cfm?writerid=981 (Personal growth, self help, writing, internet marketing, spiritual, ‘spiritual writings’ (how ‘airey-fairey’), words of inspiration and money management, how boring now, craig!)
All these articles may be freely published
Publishing Guidelines:
This article may be published with acknowledgment to the source web site, thanks.
Submitter’s Note:
Like the writers, producers and directors of “Catch the Fire”, I too love to write and share stories that matter a lot to me, in terms of my deepest values (“the artistic temperament”??). True stories from people’s lives in history, that are worth sharing with others, as they have great meaning regarding the universal human condition. So I write about ordinary people in exceptional circumstances and times: stories that hopefully uplift and impact others through certain people’s great generosity of spirit inherant in the human condition. One to overcome great obstacles or adversity in their lives! My stories are about the indomitable and unquenchable strength of the human spirit… and ‘Catch a Fire’ is a story that I would have loved to have written … but now that it’s been done by Shawn and Robyn Slovo far more personally, bigger and better than I could ever have done. I found the story of the film so moving, so compelling, just “impulsively” wanted to share with you and encourage you to see this uplifting and inspiring movie.
*
The Movie ‘CATCH A FIRE’
31 Oct 2006 – Source: United Methodist News Service
Hero of ‘Catch a Fire’ tells church about apartheid era.
“I have learned to remember the words of my friend, Nelson Mandela, when he said, ‘We can never be free, unless we learn to forgive.'” Those are the words of Patrick Chamusso, a former prisoner on South Africa’s Robben Island with Mandela.
“Nelson Mandela told us to offer forgiveness. He even forgave the person, who held him prisoner all those years at Robben Island.”
The movie depicts Chamusso’s transformation from an oil refinery worker to a freedom fighter. He was a foreman at the centrally located Secunda oil refinery, which was a symbol of South Africa’s self-sufficiency at a time when the world was instituting economic sanctions and protesting the country’s apartheid system. It was also a symbol of the wealth and riches of South Africa, earned in part from the exploitation of cheap black labor.
In his spare time, Chamusso coached a local boys’ soccer team. He was by no means a political man and would not have dreamed of becoming a member of Nelson Mandela’s freedom party, the African National Congress. That changed when Chamusso was arrested upon suspicion of sabotage of Secunda in 1980. He was beaten, tortured and mentally abused. When his wife, Precious was beaten and arrested, Chamusso was stunned into action. He left his family and joined the African National Congress in Mozambique, where he met Joe Slovo, the head of the congress’ military wing and later a cabinet member in Mandela’s first post-apartheid government.
In 1981, Chamusso attacked the Secunda refinery in a mission designed by Slovo. After the bombing, he was captured and arrested, held for nine months without trial and brutally tortured.
“I became angry to my God,” Chamusso said, as he recalled his detention. “I said, ‘Where are you?’ I am going to face the judge, and I know I’m going to die.’ But I didn’t! I was supposed to have the death sentence for what I did; but the judge gave me 24 years… It was God.”
Chamusso was imprisoned on Robben Island along with Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners. Chamusso said the only way he was able to survive prison was by praying. He served 10 years, received amnesty and was released in 1991.
‘We must forgive!’
“At first, I thought it wasn’t a good story, because I didn’t value myself as a human being,” Chamusso said. “The reason was the structure of apartheid in South Africa. It was directed at a black man. I couldn’t open a bank account in South Africa; because I must take a white man with me. I couldn’t buy a car without a white man. If there was a road block, they would pull me out of the car, search me and beat me in front of my children. But we said, ‘We forgive you people.’ Through forgiveness, you let go of the anger and put it down. You forget it!”
Chamusso said he gets upset when people compare what he did in South Africa to current acts of terrorism.
“I think anyone who compares this to terrorism doesn’t understand,” he said. “There is no comparison. We were trying to remove apartheid. Our policy was, ‘No one must die.’ We wanted to destroy apartheid, not kill people.”
“We must tell the truth, but we must also forgive,” he said.
Today Chamusso, his wife, Conney and their three children live in White River, a valley region north of Johannesburg. They have at least 80 orphans whom they have adopted and care for through their ministry called ‘Two Sisters’.
“I wake up every morning and say, ‘Lord, thank you. For my life’, thank you Lord for me still being alive’.”
‘Catch a Fire’ screenwriter Shawn Slovo, daughter of the late Joe Slovo: “I thought it was a good time to tell the story, because of the miracle of South Africa,” she said, explaining why she wrote the film.
The movie “about reconciliation is timely; because it has been a period of time that it seems like all hell has broken loose in the world.” “If you just browse the paper, you can see that violence has escalated around the globe. It all comes down to broken relationships. So as we make peace with God, it is possible for each one of us to make peace.”
31 Oct 2006 – Source: United Methodist News Service
*       *
“While we will not forget the brutality of apartheid, we will not want Robben Island to be a monument of our hardship and suffering.
We would want it to be a triumph of the human spirit against the forces of evil. A triumph of wisdom and largeness of spirit against small minds and pettiness; a triumph of courage and determination over human frailty and weakness; a triumph of the New South Africa over the old.”
– Ahmed Kathrada (who was imprisoned on Robben Island for 26 years. Prisoner No: 468/64)
To end off, here are a few thoughts on forgiveness…
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act – it is an attitude of mind.”
– Martin Luther King
The noblest revenge is to forgive.”
– Thomas Fuller, English author (1608-1661)
Nelson Mandela’s ability to rise above his conditions, to stay positive and remain focussed. His dignity, humility and character. He is a model for everyone, especially his total lack of bitterness towards his former enemies.
“There is no time to be bitter – there is work to be done.”
A tribute to the symbolic presence of dignity and strength. “Madiba’s’strength of will and character. (“He took Christianity to the market-place”). Mandela embraced his enemies with love in a “Christ-like selflessness”, epitomising a “Divine Grace” in the human condition, a true nobility, a generosity of spirit. He truly BELIEVED in his mission, never wavering in his convictions. One man’s commitment to a noble cause – what one man can do preaching reconciliation. “My mission is embracing the wounds of my country.” As an ‘icon of magnanimity”, he gives pride to all black people. What men can do with a noble mission.
“If I don’t forgive my enemies, I deny my right to have power over them.”
– Martin Luther King or Robert Kennedy??
“One man can make a difference.”
– Robert Kennedy
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
– Martin Luther King, Jr (1929-1968, American Black Leader, Nobel Prize Winner in 1964)
“Violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.” So eulogised Robert Kennedy after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in April 1968.
“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the opression or persecution of others.”
– John F Kennedy

Both individuals and governments have the freedom of will – whether to forgive for past injustices or not. In addition, we , the ordinary citizens of our land can seek, then choose to do the highest good for the greatest number of people (ALL of them, perhaps???)
We, each one of us, can and must challenge our nation to change from what it is… to what it could one day become.
Shared by Craig Lock

About the submitter:
Craig is passionate about his country, South Africa and writes about the “Beloved Country” and its transition in his novels. The story in “Catch a Fire” has a lot of meaning to his life and shares important themes from his own writings.
http://www.craiglockbooks.com
http://www.selfgrowth.com/experts/craig_lock.html

All proceeds go to needy and underprivileged children – mine!
“Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tide and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”
– Teilhard De Chardin
Together, one mind, one soul at a time, let’s encourage, impact, uplift and perhaps even inspire the world.”

THE FILM: CATCH A FIRE – TURNING THE DESIRE TO FIGHT BACK

February 8, 2010

THE FILM: CATCH A FIRE – TURNING THE DESIRE TO FIGHT BACK

Tags: South Africa, Films, Patrick Chamusso, Phillip Noyce, Reuters, forgiveness, stories of forgiveness

Sourced from http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL3039453220070131

Phillip Noyce explores the making of a terrorist from the dark days of Apartheid, and finds that the example of Patrick Chamusso holds an important message for the world: forgiveness.

A REAL HERO FOR HOLLYWOOD

By Rebecca Harrison
Entertainment | Film
MGANDUZWENI, South Africa (Reuters) – He’s blown up buildings in the name of justice and partied with Clint Eastwood.
But Patrick Chamusso, the former rebel fighter who inspired the current Hollywood political thriller “Catch a Fire,” insists he’s an ordinary guy happiest tending to AIDS orphans in the dusty hills near South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
“They like me in Hollywood,” said Chamusso with a boisterous laugh, at his modest home in north-eastern South Africa. “In L.A. I was in the Four Seasons eating breakfast by the pool but that isn’t my life, this is my life here with these kids.”
Once an apolitical father and husband, Chamusso was beaten and tortured after the apartheid government wrongly accused him of sabotage. Incensed by the injustice of white rule, he left his family and became a guerrilla fighter code-named “Hotstuff.”
But his audacious attempt to blow up a key refinery went wrong and Chamusso was jailed, alongside anti-apartheid heroes Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu.
He was released in 1992, when, after beatings, torture and a decade behind bars, a lesser man might have opted for a quiet retirement with a comfortable house and posh car.
Not Chamusso. He moved to an impoverished rural village and spent his special pension on a home for orphans — becoming a hero twice over.
“What’s the point of living an easy life if all the people around you are suffering?” he said in an interview in his poky office, plastered with pictures of the children he cares for.
“WHERE’S WESLEY SNIPES?”
“Catch a Fire,” written by the daughter of anti-apartheid stalwart Joe Slovo and directed by Phillip Noyce, whose previous films include “Patriot Games,” has already opened in the United States and premieres in South Africa next week.
Chamusso, who is played by Derek Luke, said he was disappointed when he first met the cast and crew.
“I thought Philip looked like a farmer not a director and I didn’t know this guy Derek Luke — I wanted someone like Denzel Washington or Wesley Snipes,” he chuckled. “Tim Robbins was much too handsome to be the policemen, but when I saw them all in their roles I changed my mind.”
During a trip to the United States to promote the film, Chamusso partied with Clint Eastwood and Ricki Lake, ate breakfast with Morgan Freeman and watched baseball with Robbins.
He loved the attention and the glamour, but said his years in jail instilled the importance of serving others, and compares the struggle against HIV — which is ravaging southern Africa — with the battle against apartheid.
Chamusso, 57, and his wife Conney care for 14 children. They found foster homes for another 90 youngsters in the village, who visit their house daily for food, bible classes and to use the shiny bicycles donated by the film’s production company.
He hopes “Catch a Fire,” which won critical acclaim in the United States and was even tipped for an Oscar nomination, will not be dismissed as just another anti-apartheid film.
“It has a message of forgiveness,” said Chamusso, who still sees his torturers in the town near his home. “If other countries could offer the kind of leadership we produced the whole of Africa and even the whole world would be a better place.”

Sourced from http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL3039453220070131

Buzzed-about scripts begin with passionate ideas
Fri Jan 5, 2007 5:11am EST
By Stephen Galloway
Film

Sourced from http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0522411920070107

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Inspiration, it seems, is the easy part. Talk to any number of this year’s buzzed-about original screenplay writers, and what lies beneath the surface is often a decades-old passion for their subject matter.
Take Shawn Slovo, whose “Catch a Fire” lit up when her late father Joe Slovo, a hero of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, told her about an ordinary man who took a stand. There’s Paul Bernbaum, whose “Hollywoodland” came to life thanks to his childhood love of the TV series “Superman” and a latter-day curiosity about star George Reeves. And Emilio Estevez remembers the 1968 assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy — which he saw on television at the age of 6 and wrote about in “Bobby” — “as if it happened yesterday.”
They join other screenwriters, including Pedro Almodovar (“Volver”), Michael Arndt (“Little Miss Sunshine”), Guillermo Arriaga (“Babel”), Andrea Berloff (“World Trade Center”), Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”), Paul Greengrass (“United 93”), Zach Helm (“Stranger Than Fiction”), Richard Maltby Jr. (“Miss Potter”), Nancy Meyers (“The Holiday”) and Peter Morgan (“The Queen”), in the race for Oscar consideration this year. But no matter how easily their stories came into being, no matter how polished the screenplays are now, the journey from original idea to shooting draft is rarely simple.
Estevez spent years thinking about his script, trying to define the style of film he wanted to see made.
“‘Is it a biopic? What is the approach here?’ I wrestled with what to do,” he recalls. “I wrote 30 pages and got a horrible case of writer’s block in the summer of 2000. That lasted for a year. And the 2000 elections came and went, and whenever anyone would ask what I was working on, it became the go-to excuse: ‘I am writing this thing.’ But I was truly paralyzed.”
In the summer of 2001, Estevez’s brother, actor Charlie Sheen, suggested he try a fresh environment for writing the script, and he ended up in a ramshackle motel at the beach — where it all came together. Says Estevez, “I finished the script about two weeks before 9/11.”
The events of that September gave Greengrass something to write about, too — specifically, what happened aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed that day in a field near Shanksville, Pa.
“I very often start collecting pieces on things that might or might not turn into a film one day — books, cut-out pictures, material,” he explains. “At any one time, I have a couple of dozen little things, and I stick them in a file and put it up on the shelf. I started collecting pieces about United 93 quite early on.”
Greengrass was intrigued, he says, by “the fact that the passengers on the airplane were really the first people to inhabit our world, which is the post-9/11 world, because they knew what had happened on the ground. They knew this was an attack, and their choices spoke to me.”
A 25-page treatment was snapped up by Universal almost at once, but Greengrass had another challenge to deal with next: turning that treatment into a script based in reality. He approached the families of the flight’s victims about using their memories and descriptions of the passengers and crew in order to lend veracity to the film. None objected.
But the treatment held the most essential element, he says. “When you make a film like that, the only guide ultimately is whether you feel you’ve got something to say. You’ve got to feel in your heart and soul that you’ve got something to say about it. You are dealing with entirely real events, painful events, personal tragedy. If you didn’t search your conscience and approach it very carefully, you’d be making an error.”
Bernbaum also found his conscience to be part of the equation as he tackled George Reeves’ story, even though it happened decades rather than years ago.
“I really wanted to do right by Reeves because I grew up as a fan of the show,” he says. “I ran around in a little Superman costume when I was a kid. This was a project that I wanted to do for years and years, but I always wanted to do right by him.”
That task proved easier said than done. Reeves died in 1959, and Bernbaum’s only original source still living was “Superman” co-star Jack Larson. Additionally, Reeves’ death was the source of much controversy: Was he murdered, or did he commit suicide?
“There was a question of not really knowing that the research was accurate because there was always another side to it,” Bernbaum acknowledges. “I found everything that I could on him. I watched everything he did. I tried to get as much information as I could, but there were still areas of contradiction.”
Beyond deciding how to deal with Reeves’ death, Bernbaum also had to figure out how to approach the narrative of his chronologically fragmented story. Along the way, he chose to do so through the eyes of a detective (played in “Hollywoodland” by Adrien Brody), a composite of several real-life people on both sides of the legal system. Initially, he says, “They were all in the script, and then I kept paring it down until it was just the one private eye who is the gateway into the whole story.”
When the real-life people in the story you want to tell include your father, paring down the characters is another challenge altogether. That’s what Slovo faced with “Catch a Fire.”
Patrick Chamusso was a black South African who had remained passive under apartheid. But when he and his wife were wrongly accused of terrorist crimes, he was inspired to become a freedom fighter — and was trained by Slovo’s father. They eventually blew up the Secunda Oil Refinery, where Chamusso worked.
“He told me the story just a few months after that incident,” Slovo recalls of her father. “Like all screenwriters, you are always looking for a good story. He said Patrick Chamusso was an ordinary man who wanted a good life, a family and a future — all those boring, bourgeois things — and because of what happened to him, he took a different path. And that’s what appealed to me.”
This heroic tale took a more individual turn when Shawn Slovo met with Chamusso two weeks after his release from prison on Robben Island. He revealed that it was his wife who had ratted him out to the authorities.
Says Slovo, “Then I thought, ‘I have a story!’ That is the thing I went for: the effect of the political on the personal.”
Research shifted the story further. Slovo was surprised to discover that the security police would take good cop/bad cop routines to extremes just to soften up their captives. “There is a scene where (police officer Nic) Vos takes Patrick to his house, and that came from interviews with the security personnel. This is what they said they used to do: They tried to psychologically destabilize the suspects and confuse them,” she says. “Some had prisoners to stay in their house for the week. That was part of their tactics.”
Slovo knew these men and their thinking — they had murdered her mother. And perhaps because of that, she felt willing to take certain liberties in writing about them. But when Phillip Noyce came aboard to direct and the script entered its final stages, she was guided to return to facts over fancy.
“I am a lazy writer. I don’t like to travel; I don’t like to research,” Slovo admits. “But Phillip insisted on it. And the changes brought it much closer to the truth.”
That, in its manifold forms, was the ultimate point at which each of these writers wanted to arrive. “The film has a truth that only fiction can give,” Slovo says. “A truth and a power.”
Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0522411920070107

**********

A STORY OF THE MIRACLE OF SOUTH AFRICA

CATCH A FIRE – THE MAKING OF A TERRORIST
Sourced from http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=12513&s=Features

Phillip Noyce explores the making of a terrorist from the dark days of Apartheid, and finds that the example of Patrick Chamusso holds an important message for the world: forgiveness. Andrew L. Urban reports.

South African writer Shawn Slovo admits she was amazed that Tim Bevan and Debra Haywood of UK’s Working Title agreed to back her screenplay about her father’s friend, Patrick Chamusso; “It is an absolute miracle as far as I’m concerned that they backed a story about the making of a so called terrorist.”

And while topical all right, it might also seem at first glance to be a questionable subject, if a film is to make a hero of such a figure. But as director Phil Noyce points out, this is exactly the kind of story the world needs to hear. “It’s about forgiveness … and nothing can be achieved in this world without forgiveness.” That, coupled with the theme, is a powerful message – although Noyce makes sure the film is not a sermon but a drama.

To understand what Noyce means, we have to understand the story of Patrick Chamusso, who in the 80s was serving a 24 year prison sentence for an act of terrorism – albeit not the murderous terrorism as we have come to know it today, more an act of sabotage. Shawn’s father Joe Slovo, a former head of the military wing (MK) of the African National Congress (ANC) and later minister in Nelson Mandela’s first government, told her about Chamusso. If she ever wanted to write a story about the ANC’s armed struggle against Apartheid, then she should tell the story of Patrick Chamusso, an ordinary man who joined the ANC and tried to blow up the Secunda Oil Refinery. The refinery, one of the largest in the world, was a symbol of South Africa’s self-sufficiency at a time when there were economic boycotts in place to protect the regime’s policies. It was also a symbol of the wealth and riches of South Africa, earned in part by the exploitation of cheap black labour. Joe planned the mission and Chamusso carried it out single handedly, earning him the codename ‘Hotstuff’.

There are two key elements to Chamusso’s story that make the difference: first, he was a political innocent with no involvement in sabotage when he was first arrested, tortured and jailed on suspicion. These experiences radicalised him and propelled him into the arms of the ANC, where he sought to help change his world. His act of sabotage was carefully planned so as to avoid any casualties. It didn’t quite succeed.

But the second key element is about Chamusso’s character: he was sentenced to 24 years and sent to the labour camp on Robben Island. In 1991 when Nelson Mandela was finally freed after 27 years imprisonment, Chamusso had spent 10 years there; he was released as part of the amnesty granted to all political prisoners. Joe put Shawn in touch with him and they met two weeks after his release from prison. For the next three days, Shawn recorded Chamusso recounting his story and those conversations provided the inspiration for the film. Chamusso chose to forgive his captors – and now runs an orphanage in northern South Africa for children whose parents have died of AIDS.
“a character who audiences all over the world could identify with”
Shawn says. “I recognized in Chamusso, a character who audiences all over the world could identify with.” She explains, “He’s not a typical hero of South Africa’s struggle in that here is a man who had no political history, education or background before joining the ANC. He is an ordinary man who loved his family, had a good job and was passionate about football. But when things did go wrong, instead of giving in or being immobilized, he decided to take control. That is extremely heroic to me.”

Noyce took the film seriously enough not to be over confident. “For the first three or four months of working on this movie I did virtually nothing else but meet people, trying to recreate the mood back in the early 80s, trying to understand things from a black and a white South African viewpoint.”

This involved travelling around with Robyn and Shawn and interviewing everyone that he could possibly meet who might have been involved in Chamusso’s story. They also visited the locations where the actual story took place, from the oil refinery at Secunda, through to the ANC villa in Maputo, Mozambique, retracing Chamusso’s journey out of South Africa to Angola, back into South Africa again and finally to prison on Robben Island.

He says, “In the end it was something rather simple that allowed me finally to have the confidence to make this movie and that was taking a car and driving around South Africa for about ten days. Once I could turn left and right and sort of navigate around the country I felt as though I had my feet on the ground, and now armed also with all the research, I could make a film about that place and that time and maybe do it justice.”

It was on the same research trip that Noyce met Chamusso for the first time. This first meeting had a profound effect on the screenplay as Noyce worked to have even more of the true events put back into the story. Shawn explains, “I had fictionalised the story because however good a story is, and however true to life it is, it doesn’t always make a film. When Philip met Patrick and spent hours and hours listening to his recounting of his story, his first reaction was, ‘well if this happens why isn’t it in the script?’

Noyce explains, “I just wanted to sit Chamusso down and intensively debrief him, get him to tell me the story of his life from birth as he remembered it right through to the present day. And for about two days he just spoke into a camera, into a microphone, going over it all.”

Noyce wanted to hear the reasons why Patrick felt that he had to leave that relatively comfortable life, cross the border to Mozambique and become a soldier? Why he felt that he had to take up arms and fight back against the Apartheid regime? Importantly he wanted to get all the minutiae, the details; how did Chamusso break into the Secunda refinery? What was it like training to be a soldier in Angola? What happened to him when he was imprisoned on Robben Island?
“a story about the miracle of South Africa”
The three key characters in the film are Chamusso, his wife Precious and the South African security officer Nic Vos; in the film they are played by Derek Luke, Bonnie Mbuli and Tim Robbins – the latter because Noyce wanted to avoid stereotype casting. “I felt that in Tim I’d found an actor who would be able to go beyond the stereotypical white South African racist villain that we’ve sometimes seen on the screen. I knew he could reveal how any one of us, the audience, could behave in exactly the same way as Nick Vos.”

Noyce adds, “Although this is a story about the past it’s also a story about the miracle of South Africa. And Chamusso is just one example of that miracle.”

Published November 23, 2006

Sourced from http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/home/view.asp?a=12513&s=Features

“THE NEWSPAPER REPORTER AUTHOR”

February 7, 2010

Craig is writing a new “work” (or rather “works”) and as he writes  chapters is sharing extracts on his WordPress blog.
craiglock.wordpress.com and
http://en.search.wordpress.com/?q=%22craig+lock%22 Enjoy

Tags: South Africa, Reporter, reporter who became a politician, politician, Helen Zille, Steve Biko, Craig Lock
INTRODUCTION

“THE NEWSPAPER REPORTER AUTHOR”

Well, I suppose it was perfectly natural that Peter Theron would become a reporter. His father Dennis, had worked for the Cape Argus as sports editor and after his schooling at Wynberg Boy’s High was completed (a first-class matric, by the way), Peter joined the Cape Times as a cub reporter, covering sport and court proceedings. Peter loved writing about his sport and was a hard worker, being employed by that same newspaper in his final two years of schooling. The pocket money as a junior certainly helped. Peter had always enjoyed his writing at Wynberg Boys High School, doing well in his compositions and in both official languages – English, as well as Afrikaans.
*
I enjoyed my work at The Cape Times, where I worked for many years. I am not one of those people, who has great ambition; so I was quite happy to remain as a mere reporter. A rather humble occupation! Well then, who wants all those responsibilities of being an editor? All the stress with those daily hassles running a newspaper. Definitely not me!

It must have been particularly hard in the ‘bad old days’ of apartheid, when all news was so strictly censored.  Editors had to take major policy decisions every day about what could and what could not be committed to newsprint. The pages and pages of rules. Those ‘poor guys’, like Donald Woods of the Daily Despatch in East London!

*

Oh well, life as a reporter is certainly interesting…In my work since those great days at the end of April in 1994, I did a lot of travelling around the country to file my reports. There were some special projects (no, not those kind!). During the course of my work, I heard so many fascinating stories about our new country…and I met so many interesting people.

My friends always said that I should one day leave the paper and write a book about my experiences and my interviews with them. I thought about it for a long time, then decided it was a good idea…though I am rather nervous of going ahead with it. It is just too insecure and quite ‘scary’ writing a book and putting all those words into print. Also I didn’t quite know how I’d feel recalling all those memories in those tense days in our history.

Anyway, I have taken a lot of what I wrote for my paper from my personal scrapbook –  of which I am so proud. But I hope my editor doesn’t get too angry at what I have done!

“Ja nee”, those were such interesting times in the years immediately after that first election: meeting all those ordinary New South Africans, nearly all filled with such hope for the future of our beautiful country. But many were not so ordinary, extra-ordinary, wonderful people, in fact. Just like our country!
I’ll tell you about some of them…so you can judge for yourself.

So now it’s time for me to start my ‘little’ story about some heroes, some well-known, but many unknown…”

THE LONG, DRY AND DUSTY ROAD UP AHEAD

This complex melting pot of people, the vibrant and colourful land that is South Africa is a melting pot of diverse population groups, a mix of European and African cultures, “a soup”, where the first and third worlds mingle – often violently. Because we are now “one nation” of many diverse peoples, yet ALL South Africans. In truth, a world in one nation; but even more so, “the true rainbow nation” of the world… that can “light a torch of reconciliation and peace  for the entire world

*       *

CHAPTER ONE: THE YOUNG NEWSPAPER REPORTER WHO BECAME A POLITICIAN

Profile: Helen Zille
15th April 2009
Sourced from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7998328.stm

Helen Zille is the mayor* of Cape Town and leader of the Democratic Alliance.

* now former mayor

Her party seems poised to perform well in upcoming elections in the Western Cape, where she is a candidate for premier in provincial elections.
Long before pursuing a career in politics, Ms Zille was a journalist with the liberal Rand Daily Mail newspaper.
Her greatest scoop as a political reporter came in 1977 when she uncovered how black consciousness activist Steve Biko had been tortured to death while in police custody.
In doing so, she disproved the official version that he died of natural causes and established her credentials as an anti-apartheid critic.
The 58-year-old’s first flirtation with politics came in the 1980s, when she worked with non-governmental organisations and pro-democracy group the Black Sash, a white women’s civil rights movement.

Early political career
This interest in politics was cemented in the mid-1990s when she joined the liberal Democratic Party – later to become the Democratic Alliance, in 2000 – where she was asked to reformulate the party’s education policy and stand as a candidate for the Western Cape legislature.
After being elected to the Cape provincial parliament in 1999, she entered parliament in 2004 and became her party’s spokeswoman on education.
A fluent speaker of Xhosa, she cultivated the DA’s membership in the black townships around Cape Town and was a finalist for South African Woman of the Year in 2003.
In March 2006, Ms Zille was elected mayor of Cape Town, and resigned from parliament.
Her position as mayor was fiercely contested by the governing African National Congress (ANC) and elevated her status, making her one of the Democratic Alliance’s most high-profile figures.
In May 2007 the Johannesburg-born politician was elected party leader.

World Mayor award
The married mother-of-two is widely regarded as having managed to balance her dual role as mayor of the country’s legislative capital and as Democratic Alliance leader with aplomb.
Her tenure at city hall in Cape Town, the only major city in the country not governed by the ANC, has been seen as a success, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that the city’s image has improved.
In 2008 Ms Zille was bestowed with the World Mayor award by City Mayors, an international think-tank.
This accolade has meant that Cape Town has been seen as a testing ground for the Democratic Alliance’s policies on issues such as urban renewal, crime, drugs and corruption.
In the past, Ms Zille has said she does not believe she will ever be president of South Africa not least, she feels, because she is white.
But she has stated a belief that her job is to create a political choice for the people of South Africa who are disaffected by what she describes as the presumption, arrogance and mismanagement of the ANC.

As an opposition leader, Ms Zille has been a vocal critic of the ANC on issues such as judicial independence and its handling of crime.
After corruption charges against ANC leader Jacob Zuma were dropped, Ms Zille led her party’s legal challenge against the decision.
She accused prosecutors of bowing to political pressure just two weeks before elections.
“We believe there’s been terrible abuse here. We believe none of the reasons given are justification for withdrawing the case and we are going to stop that abuse,” said Ms Zille, of the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority to drop charges.
But Ms Zille is not without her own detractors.
Her dancing and singing while on the campaign trail have prompted ridicule in some circles, forcing her to defend herself.
“Some people tell me ‘Mrs Zille you shouldn’t dance, it’s not your style’,” she revealed on the campaign trail.
“Must I stand stiff and say ‘no thanks, I don’t want to dance?’,” she said, adding that song and dance are part of South African culture.

Sourced from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7998328.stm

Another Biography for Helen Zille
Sourced from http://www.silobreaker.com/biography-for-helen-zille-5_2262263258327023616_4

Leader of the Democratic Alliance
Organisation: Democratic Alliance (South Africa)
Nationality: South Africa
Professional Career:
Helen was born in Johannesburg and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Witwatersrand
Prior to entering politics, Helen Zille made a name for herself during the apartheid era as a political journalist, working for the Rand Daily Mail, South Africa’s leading liberal newspaper.
Working there, she emerged as a leading anti-apartheid critic, famously exposing the circumstances behind Steve Biko’s death in police custody in 1977.

Helen Zille, former reporter at the Rand Daily Mail and former mayor of Cape Town and leader of South Africa’s Demoratic alliance, was a dedicated reporter, who vigorously investigated and exposed how Biko was actually killed by security police and did not actually die of a hunger strike.

In her early career Helen Zille, former reporter at the Rand Daily Mail and current mayor of Cape Town and leader of South Africa’s Democratic alliance, vigorously investigated and exposed how Steve Biko was actually killed by security police and did not die of a hunger strike.

She became involved in various NGOs and organizations, including the Open Society Foundation, the Independent Media Diversity Trust, and the Black Sash.
She joined the former Democratic Party in the mid 1990s, where she was asked to reformulate the party’s education policy and stand as a candidate on its election list for the Western Cape legislature. She also acted as Technical Adviser to the party at CODESA in the early 1990s. Helen was elected to the provincial parliament in the 1999 general election and appointed MEC for education.
She served as MEC under the newly formed Democratic Alliance until 2001, and then as Leader of the Opposition in the Provincial Legislature until she was elected to the National Assembly in 2004.
As a Member of Parliament she served on the Portfolio Committee on Education, and was the Democratic Alliance’s National Spokesperson.
In May 2006, Helen was elected mayor of Cape Town and in 2007 she was elected Leader of the Democratic Alliance.
On 14 October 2008, Helen was awarded the 2008 World Mayor award by City Mayors, an international urban-affairs think tank.
Compilation by Silobreaker
Although Silobreaker has relied on what it regards as reliable sources while compiling the content herein, Silobreaker cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, integrity or quality of such content and no responsibility is accepted by Silobreaker in respect of such content. Readers must determine for themselves what reliance they should place on the compiled content herein
http://www.silobreaker.com/biography-for-helen-zille-5_2262263258327023616_4

http://www.da.org.za/docs/574/The%20Power%20of%20Learning_document.doc.

From an article by Hugh Murray in Leadership Magazine, February 2000
The daughter of half-Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, who met later in South Africa, she has always taken life very seriously – a finely-tuned sense of humour notwithstanding. Prominent South African businesswoman, Sheila Boardman recalls that Zille was a year ahead of her at St Mary’s in Johannesburg, and was head day-girl. Says Boardman: “I was certainly aware of her debating and organisational ability. She was always very clear about her goals, and was very direct and open. This was quite unusual for girls at that time. Helen has clarity, direction and – even more important – incredible courage.
“That’s what makes her different. At a time when this country was running on fear, Helen stood out for her fearlessness. As a political reporter and in her work at the University of Cape Town, she was never frightened to say and do what was right. Those things are so rare in politics. I’d love to see her leading the Democratic Party. She would be absolutely brilliant.”

Zille remains true to Boardman’s description. Hardworking to a fault, she has all the unorthodox habits of a driven person – often rising a 3am or some such hour to peruse her e-mail. At the same time she runs her family with precision and care, not forgetting the needs of two gifted sons or her brilliant academic husband. “I have a rock-solid marriage and family, and this gives me the freedom to do what I have to,” she explains.
None of her political rise was planned, it seems. “Everything I have done in my life has developed organically. I’ve never sat and said ‘this is where I want to be in five years time’, and I’ve never had a plan for my life.” Zille says she became aware of the need for planning when she “got into management”.

Her interest in politics most certainly began during her years at the now-defunct but famous Rand Daily Mail, where she had a distinguished career. Her editor at the time, the internationally renowned Allister Sparks, recalls: “She was the star cadet on the Rand Daily Mail.
I have always thought of her as a protégé, and appointed her political reporter and then political correspondent of the RDM as soon as it was appropriate. She performed very well, and was the most meticulously accurate reporter I have known. Helen is an extraordinarily able and committed person.”
Tall, elegant and handsome in a strongly feminine way, the 48-year-old education minister is surprised at the reception she has had since taking office. How did she get there? “Things have interested me. I’ve pursued those that really interested me. I’ve become passionate about issues, and when opportunities have opened up, I’ve used them.”
Education – always important to Zille – reached passion status during her term as chairperson of the governing body of Grove Primary School in Claremont, attended by her children. She took on and defeated the State in a now-famous court case. Then Zille’s 10-point plan to rescue state schools also brought her prominently into the limelight, and to the attention of the Democratic Party.
Having served with distinction as Director of Communications at UCT – a sharp-end job which brought her into close contact with one of her mentors (Mamphela Ramphele, the outgoing vice-chancellor), Zille was well equipped to handle the difficult times. Her representation of the parents of Grove, who were wrestling with the business of change and such matters as the principle of subsidising the education of children from disadvantaged homes, made her a household name, an object of admiration.
“My experiences have made me very devoted to the public schools’ systems. I wanted my children to go to public schools, and be with all kinds of children from all kinds of backgrounds. They started their education just as the schools were beginning to integrate, so it was really a wonderful opportunity. I was also aware that they would eventually be entering a knowledge-based economy, and that proper education was their only real chance. And I wanted that to happen in the public schools system”, Zille elaborates.
She was deeply concerned that the government tended to pay more attention to the needs of the trade unions than to education. It was a time when “right-sizing” was an issue, and it was apparent that many who didn’t deserve their positions were being expediently retained while those who did were given no option but to take a package and move on.

It was a difficult time for Zille – a long-time loyalist from the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM), many of whom were devout Marxists and members of the ANC, to which some believe she may have been emotionally inclined at one time. “To oppose the ANC meant that we would be called racist. It was the first time this matter had come up, so I had to deal with it. It put me at the cutting edge of education. I’m committed to change and equity, but we had to find ways of achieving these things. Meanwhile, I was continually seeing the ANC propagating a race-based model of transformation, rather than one based on merit, individual effort and reward.”
As a “liberal democrat” firmly rooted in the principles of just law and due process, and who had expressed her commitment to these values as vice-chair of the End Conscription Campaign and member of the national executive of the Black Sash, amongst many other tasks, Zille’s political credentials were impeccable. Moreover, she had in the early nineties been involved in the investigations into the Third Force and police efforts to “exacerbate and foment violence” in the black townships. It was a “very trying and stressful period.”
“Most of my friends were socialists and committed to the ANC. It always puzzled me that people whose values I shared so deeply could have such a different understanding of what would make a society develop and grow, and what would give us the best chance of creating greater equity.” So convinced was Zille that she had missed something about Marxism that she went back to UCT to study revisionist literature on economics and politics.
“After that, I was completely satisfied that the emperor had no clothes! I also came to understand that being a liberal democrat was not foreign to the needs of oppressed and poor people, but central to [solving these problems]. I believe there was no inconsistency in associating myself with the MDM as a liberal democrat.”
She is, nonetheless, conscious that white liberalism has a somewhat tarnished reputation, for all the wrong reasons. “I think this is because many whites have lived their lives at too much of a distance from the issues they talk about and analyse. I think that for people [who interact with issues] that arise out of their daily interaction with township residents, this problem doesn’t arise. Working together enables one to develop the confidence and trust of people one is working with. Liberalism tends to divorce itself from the real problems of real people. I think there are many people who call themselves liberal who’ve never been into a township, and would probably be scared to.

“There’s a disjuncture between how people live and how they engage with society.”

“The ANC certainly don’t have a monopoly on morality.”

– the words of Helen Zille (in 2000)
from http://www.da.org.za/docs/574/The%20Power%20of%20Learning_document.doc
*
Steve Biko’s Legacy Remains Alive After 30 Years

“Although I never met Steve Biko, he profoundly influenced my life, personally and professionally. As a student at Wits, I still recall my confusion when the young and dynamic Biko led black students out of the National Union of South African Students, and announced: “Black man, you are on your own”.
It took a while for me, an activist for non-racialism, to understand his analysis of the need for black solidarity in the psychological struggle against racial oppression. I understood it better when he said: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.” That made sense to me. I understood Black Consciousness in that context.”
– Helen Zille
8 September 2007

The African va lue of ‘UBUNTU’, means  “I am because we all are.”
We live in a very complex country of great disparities and extremes, especially in wealth and in living standards. A land of great contradictions: a land of sunshine, a world in one country, a land of laughter in this strange and beautiful place. Much of the laughter from the very people, who have suffered the most and felt the most pain in this strange tormented place of ours. Yes, there is that sadness in the eyes of them too. So to put it simply, South Africa is just one happy, sad land.

… and I hope that the lives of ALL citizens of the world will become better in the days ahead.

In that wonderfully moving book, ‘Cry the Beloved Country’ by Alan Paton (I hear that the new movie is being released in a few months with a gala premiere in New York with Nelson Mandela and Hilary Clinton attending),
the young black priest, Msimango says the following words to the older black priest, Stephen Khumalo, the main character in this “heart-tugging” tale:

“I have one great fear in my heart, that one day when they turn to loving, they will find we are turned to hating.”

From CRY THE BELOVED COUNTRY (1946)

Thank goodness that the fear and hatred of the the old South Africa between the races has not come to pass. Hopefully, it is now ‘finished and klaar’ – in the spirit of reaching out and reconciliation of the New South Africa. But in the midst of the many doomsdayers, who predicted the eruption of the Republic of South Africa in those dark days, the beginning of the end of apartheid, there were some voices of hope. Many of them did not believe that the country would disintegrate into the world’s worst civil war – a terrible racial massacre taking millions of lives. As the great South African industrialist, Sir Harry Oppenheimer optomistically said a number of years ago in those dark old days of repression: “All South Africans have quite exceptional qualities of courage, magniminity and faith for the solutions to the problems of the country”…and as we have seen, he was quite right.

*   *      *

To get back to that incredibly moving and powerful book, Cry the Beloved Country, I never fail to be moved by the following stirring words from that great Natal writer and “visionary”, Alan Paton. This book, which first brought home to the world the reality of racism in South Africa was very prophetic…and this is the reason why I have repeated the beautiful ending.

“Yes, it is the dawn that has come. The titihya wakes from sleep, and goes about its work of forlorn crying. The sun tips with light the mountains of Ingeli and East Griqualand. The great valley of the Umzimkulu is still in darkness, but the light will come there. Ndotsheni is still in darkness, but the light will come there also. For it is a dawn that has come, as it has come for a thousand centuries, never failing. But when that dawn will come, of our emancipation, from the fear of bondage and the bondage of fear, why, that is a secret.”
From ‘Cry the Beloved Country’ by Alan Paton (1948).

SAVUKA

We have awoken.

HAMBA KAHLE (GO WELL)

The Economy of Peace

February 7, 2010
Article Title: The Economy of Peace
Submitted by: Craig Lock
Key words (Tags): South Africa, economy, economist, peace

Craig’s new blog with thoughts and extracts from various writings is at craiglock.wordpress.com and

Submitter’s Note:

The following are some short extracts from two novels, ‘Endless Possibilities, Far and Great Horizons’ and ‘Peace Lives WITHIN’ on which Craig is currently “working” (or rather they seem to be ‘writing themselves. Hope they are not too “heavy heavy”. Enjoy.
Publishing Guidelines:
All my articles and extracts from my various writings may be freely published, electronically or in print.
“We share what we know, so that we all may grow.”
*
The ECONOMIST, THE MEDIATOR
The West should do more to help local people with new investments in roads and other infrastructure, education and crop assistance.”
– Corporal (General) Mullen: “We cannot kill our way to victory (in Afghanistan).”
For now at least, Syria is following a model resembling China’s: Crack down on dissent, liberate the economy and try to manage the growing gap between rich and poor.
In summary, there needs to be an open approach and a willingness to interact with a wide variety of sectors in the economy. The leaders must make decisions (brave) that liberate the economy and try to manage the growing gap between rich and poor. They should liberalise and diversify parts of the economy.
There needs to be a multi-pronged approach to peace initiaves
Strategic:
D iplomacy
E conomic
P olitical
S cientific
Cultural contacts (alignments)
and finally (and as a last resort),
M ilitary efforts.
*
ECONOMICS AND GROWTH (the ideas of a complete layman”)
Here are a few central ideas in marketing South Africa as an investment destination.
I have seen first-hand how successfully New Zealand has attracted foreign investment; so hope that the following information might be of use in your difficult task.
Some of the conditions which made New Zealand successful were as follows:
* a “stable democratic” country
* a stable currency
* stable interest rates offering a real return to investors, ie. in excess of inflation.
* relatively cheap labour?
* liberal labour laws, however with a sufficiently strong trade union movement to protect workers.
* most importantly, various investment incentives, such as tax abatements and a lower company tax rate.
* very low import and export tariffs – making it a competitive environment in which to do business.
* removal of government subsidies on virtually all industries.
*
“New Zealand has been particularly successful in attracting investment from the “tiger” economies of South-east Asia, eg. Malasia, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia.
Though tiny, it is a productive efficient economy with increased exports; though deregulation and privatisation has meant some loss of jobs (especially in the civil service).
I hope that these thoughts may be of interest for what it is worth, although I realise that South Africa has it’s unique problems.”
So said Mr Ishmail Pahad, Foreign Minister of South Africa to the delegation of foreign visitors and businessmen.
* *
“The Zimbabwean people deserve a lasting democratic settlement, that will bring reform, economic recovery and stability. We look forward to seeing the full details of the agreement. announced yesterday by President Mbeki.”
About the Submitter:
Craig is currently “working” on ‘Endless Possibilities, Far and Great Horizons’ – true inspiring stories of the human condition in overcoming seemingly impossible odds.

Craig’s new blog with thoughts and extracts from various writings is at craiglock.wordpress.com and

“Together, one mind, one soul at a time, let’s see how many people we can impact, empower, encourage and perhaps even inspire to reach their fullest potentials. Change YOUR world and you help change THE world.”
THESE THOUGHTS MAY BE FREELY PUBLISHED
“Peace is the greatest weapon for development, that any people can have.”
– Nelson Mandela

President who dared to preach peace

February 6, 2010

Sourced from: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/government/news/article.cfm?c_id=49&objectid=10624404&pnum=0

Tags: South Africa, FW De Klerk, Nelson Mandela, Peace,  Observer, Alex Duval, New Zealand Herald
President who dared to preach peace
By Alex Duval
4:00 AM Saturday Feb 6, 2010

Twenty years after the end of apartheid, F. W. de Klerk fends off accusations from some white South Africans that he gave South Africa away. Alex Duval meets the man who freed Mandela.

After 26 years in captivity, Nelson Mandela did not want to be set free straight away. Two days before his release, the world’s most famous political prisoner was taken to see President F. W. de Klerk in his Cape Town office. The president got a surprise.
“I told him he would be flown to Johannesburg and released there on February 11, 1990. Mr Mandela’s reaction was not at all as I had expected,” said de Klerk. “He said: ‘No, it is too soon, we need more time for preparation.’ That is when I realised that long hours of negotiation lay ahead with this man.”
Twenty years after the event, sitting in the study of his Cape Town home, Frederik Willem de Klerk, now 73, still has the headmasterly style and deliberate speech that the watching world came to know as he played a crucial role in dismantling apartheid. But the winner of the 1993 Nobel peace prize still recalls the enormous leap of faith that was required to negotiate the end of white minority rule with what he describes as the “fundamentally socialistic” African National Congress of the time.
Just after 4pm on the date appointed by de Klerk, Mandela, then 71, walked free, holding the hand of his wife, Winnie. The prisoner had lost his argument for a later release date but had persuaded de Klerk to allow him to leave directly from Victor Verster prison, in Paarl, near Cape Town.

Mandela held up his fist in an ANC salute. In an instant he switched from being a symbol of oppression to the global symbol of courage and freedom that he remains today.
Mandela’s release did not signal the end of apartheid. In fact, the white-ruled pariah state was entering the most dangerous chapter in its history since the introduction of racial separateness in 1948.
Four hours after leaving prison, Mandela arrived in Cape Town to address thousands of people gathered outside city hall. The impatient crowd had clashed with police and bullets had been fired. But Mandela did not bring a message of appeasement. “The factors which necessitated armed struggle still exist today,” he told the cheering onlookers.
Mandela called on the international community to maintain its sanctions.
“I have carried the idea of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. I hope to live to see the achievement of that ideal. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die,” he shouted.
With hindsight, Mandela used the fiery address to take up a negotiating position and convince the black majority that he had not made a secret pact with the authorities.
De Klerk had his moment of truth nine days earlier, in an address to the all-white parliament that coined the phrase “a new South Africa”. “There were gasps in the house, yes,” said de Klerk, “but not at the news of Mr Mandela’s release. The gasps came when I announced the unbanning not only of the ANC but also the South African Communist party and of all affiliated organisations, which included the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto we Sizwe.
There were gasps then and, from the far-right party, protests and boos.”
De Klerk speaks slowly and clearly – and charmlessly. He is a lawyer from a strict, Calvinist tradition in which displays of emotion are a seen as a sign of weakness. His one quirk seems to be the incessant chewing of gum.
He has lived in this modern house in Fresnaye for 18 months, having moved into Cape Town with his second wife, Elita, from his farm in Paarl. He points out that, from his garden, he has a view of Robben Island, where Mandela spent 18 years in prison. It is a fact. He does not reveal whether it leaves him hot or cold.
But radical change requires steely nerves. De Klerk had become president in September 1989, the son of a National party cabinet minister and the nephew of a prime minister. He grew up with Afrikaner fear in his DNA – the dread that after 400 years on the tip of Africa and the struggle against British colonial rule, his Huguenot descendants would be chased into the sea by the black majority. That fear contributed to policies that built his nation – forced removals to create racially segregated areas and blacks being deprived of their citizenship. It led to “passbooks”, introduced to restrict black people’s movements beyond those that were necessary to the economy, and separate beaches, buses, hospitals, schools, universities and lavatories for blacks, whites, mixed-race “coloureds” and Indians.

As he prepared his February 2 speech at his holiday home in Hermanus in the Western Cape, de Klerk claims he had no confidant. “My predecessor, P. W. Botha, had an inner circle and I did not like it. I preferred decisions to evolve out of cabinet discussions.
That way we achieved real co-ownership of our policies.”
He says his consultative style was a break with National party culture. But he also claims – in a line of argument that allows him to avoid condemning apartheid outright – that the system unravelled through a gradual process.
Even today, he admits only that international sanctions against South Africa “from time to time kept us on our toes”.
In 1959 prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd’s government divided black South Africans into eight ethnic groups and allocated them “homelands” – nations within the nation. The move was a cornerstone of an Afrikaner nationalist dream to create a republic, but it led to international isolation. De Klerk was a vigorous supporter. “I wanted us to take a more adventurous approach to the nation state concept, but the project ultimately failed because the whites wanted to keep too much land for themselves.
“The third phase – which coincided with my entering cabinet but was not started by me – was a shift towards reform. It focused on making separate development more acceptable while still believing it was just. But by the early 1980s we had ended up in a dead-end street in which a minority would continue to hold the reins of power and blacks, outside the homelands, really did not have any meaningful political rights. We had become too economically interdependent. We had become an omelette that you could not unscramble.”
In 1986 the National party abandoned the concept of separate development.
“We embraced the idea of a united South Africa with equal political rights for all, but with very effective protection of minorities. Then my predecessor lost his enthusiasm. When I took over, my task was to flesh out what was already a fairly clear vision, but we needed broad support. We needed negotiation.”
De Klerk moved quickly. In October 1989, a month after succeeding Botha, he released Mandela’s political mentor, Walter Sisulu, and seven other prominent Robben Island prisoners. De Klerk says: “When I first met Mandela we did not discuss anything of substance, we just felt each other out. He spent a long time expressing his admiration for the Boer generals and how ingenious they were during the Anglo-Boer war. We did not discuss the fundamental problems or our political philosophies at all.
“Later, during the negotiations, it became clear that there was a big divide. On the economic side, the ANC was fundamentally socialistic, the influence of the Communist party was pervasive and they wanted nationalisation. They also wanted to create an unelected government of national unity which would organise elections. We insisted on governing until a new constitution had been negotiated and adopted by parliament.”
De Klerk’s successive negotiated victories potentially saved South Africa from the post-colonial governance void suffered by many other countries on the continent. They also entrenched minority rights constitutionally and set the country on a capitalist path. “The government that came into power after the April 1994 elections was going to need a budget. It was drafted by our finance minister, Derek Keys, and he convinced them of the necessity to stay within the free-market principles that had been in force in South Africa for decades.
The ANC has stuck to these principles and that is one of the great positives.”
He worries that the left wing of the governing alliance – which supported President Jacob Zuma’s offensive to oust Thabo Mbeki in 2008 – will win its campaign for payback. De Klerk, who retired as deputy president in 1997, also believes South Africa is ripe for a political shake-up, maybe as soon as in next year’s municipal elections.
“You cannot say we are a healthy, dynamic democracy when one party wins almost two-thirds of the vote. We need a realignment in politics. I am convinced there will be further splits in the ANC because you cannot keep together people who believe in hardline socialism and others who have become convinced of free-market principles. The 2011 elections will be the opportunity for some much-needed shock therapy. I hope people at those elections will use their right to vote less with emotion and more through reason to express their concerns about the failure of service delivery.”
The foundation he runs in Cape Town officially exists to defend the constitution but places a strong focus on minority rights – those of Afrikaners and the Afrikaans-speaking “coloured” population. “The ANC has regressed into dividing South Africa again along the basis of race and class. We see an attitude in which for certain purposes all people of colour are black, but for other purposes black Africans have a more valid case in the field of, for example, affirmative action than do brown or Indian South Africans. The legacy of Mandela needs to be revived.”
He says some whites still accuse him of having given the country away. Asked what would have happened had he not made the February 2 speech, de Klerk has a ready answer. “To those people I say it is a false comparison to look at what was good in the old South Africa against what is bad today.

“If we had not changed in the manner we did, South Africa would be completely isolated. The majority of people in the world would be intent on overthrowing the government. Our economy would be non-existent – we would not be exporting a single case of wine and South African planes would not be allowed to land anywhere. Internally, we would have the equivalent of civil war.”
– OBSERVER
By Alex Duval