Monday, November 06, 2006

Nuf Sed

A dangerous man who faded away has finally died. I hope he is enjoying a nice cup of rooibos tea with Steve Biko. Too early as yet methinks, but at least Steve is enjoying it.

My abiding memory of PW Botha was an interview conducted by journalists outside his Wilderness residence during the Truth and Reconciliation Campaign. He was saying his usual stuff about how the TRC was maligning his name and his people and that he would have nothing to do with it, blah, blah, blah…

Behind him in the background was the driveway to his house, “Die Anker”, which is Afrikaans for “The Anchor”. There is a sign at the bottom of the driveway with this name on it. There is a graphic on the sign of an anchor lying on its side with the words arranged around it. The end hooks of the anchor which form a “W” shape lie next to the word “Anker” so that the net result is a sign which says:

Die Wanker

As PW wagged his finger at the world, his own home silently and unwittingly condemned him. What I found funny then, I find sadly prophetic now. I expect that there will be many deaths in the years to come which will be just as sad because one more chance at reconciliation will die with each recalcitrant, narcissistic and unrepentant soul.

In this context it is good to remember Vlok’s recent penitence at the feet of Frank Chikane (and a few others that didn’t make the media spotlight, mind you). While it doesn’t go far enough, it was immeasurably better than nothing.

History is the quintessential reality-defined-by-perception. PW has condemned himself to an eternity of bad jokes and piercing satire. Vlok has created a paradoxically hopeful as well as confounding position – one that will be debated but never pitied.

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