Powerful rebuke of SA Chief Rabbi over Goldstone

The great, strongly anti-Apartheid South African journo Allister Sparks has penned a powerful rebuke of his country’s Chief Rabbi, Warren Goldstein, over the latter’s strongly expressed criticism of Constitutional Court member Richard Goldstone, and Goldstone’s role in heading the UN’s fact-finding mission for Gaza.
(HT: Dominic.)
Sparks starts by noting that three of the major IDF war crimes reported by the Goldstone commission in Gaza were in fact recently confirmed to have been such by a military investigation undertaken by the IDF high command itself.
He comments, “the real importance of this military investigation is that it vindicates the Goldstone commission,” adding:

    For Judge Richard Goldstone, particularly, this is a personal vindication, for he was excoriated by leading members of the local Jewish community for chairing the commission. He was told his commission’s findings were lies; that he was naive and gullible for accepting the version of events given by terrorists; and that, since he is a Jew, he was a traitor to his people.
    His critics were given support by Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, who chastised Goldstone for “doing great damage to the state of Israel”. He should have recused himself instead, Goldstein said, and taken no part in the investigating mission.

He then issues this important reproach to Goldstein:

    We secularists need to know what a religious leader in our community means when he seeks to impose such an ethical dictum on a prominent member of his faith — someone who was a founding father of our Constitutional Court and an interpreter of our infinitely important national constitution in this new democracy.
    I am reminded here of the conflict between the Dutch Reformed Church and Beyers Naude over the issue of apartheid.
    I attended the Dutch Reformed Church service in Linden, Johannesburg, at which Naude had to respond to the church leaders’ demand that he choose between the church’s doctrine of support for apartheid and his commitment to the nonracial Christian Institute he had founded.
    In other words, Naude was forced to choose between his moral principles and his loyalty to his own people and their church.
    I heard Naude announce his decision that memorable day before the glitterati of Afrikaner nationalism in the packed pews before him. Smilingly, boldly, he told them simply: “I choose God before man.”
    In other words, principles, truth and justice before ethnic or group loyalty. It was the defining moment of that great man’s life.
    So I ask the chief rabbi that same question today: what is your choice? Then, at the level of plain human decency, don’t you think, Chief Rabbi Goldstein and those members of the Orthodox Jewish community and the South African Zionist Federation whom you lead, that you owe Judge Goldstone an apology? A public, abject apology.
    Leaders of the federation went to the extremes of cruelty when they took their religious war against Judge Goldstone (dare I call it a fatwa?) into the heart of his family by trying to ban him from his grandson’s bar mitzvah. Eventually, but it seemed to me somewhat reluctantly, negotiations enabled the family to celebrate this important event together.
    But I’m sorry, that wasn’t enough. In this land of ubuntu, this land of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, you must stand up, Chief Rabbi Goldstein, and on behalf of the co-religionists you supported in this calumny, bow your head, apologise and, like the man of God I’m sure you are, beg forgiveness of Judge Richard Goldstone.

New docs on Israel’s nuke deal with apartheid SA

Kudos to the Guardian’s Chris McGreal for having published and interpreted a series of official agreements concluded between Israel and South Africa in the mid-1970s, when the government in South Africa was at the height of its pursuit of apartheid. (HT: omop.)
In 1974, the U.N. General Assembly formally determined that apartheid constituted a crime against humanity. Ah, but that didn’t prevent Israel’s then defense minister (and current president) Shimon Peres from sending a fawning letter to South Africa’s Information Minister in November 1974 saying that the two countries share a “common hatred of injustice,” and urging a “close identity of aspirations and interests.”
McGreal writes that the new documents were uncovered by U.S. researcher Sasha Polakow-Suransky, as part of his research for his soon-to-be-published book on the relationship between the two countries while South Africa was still in its apartheid phase. Officials in the present South African government apparently felt little need to continue to keep the documents secret.
McGreal writes that the newly revealed “top secret” minutes of meetings held by officials from the two countries in 1975 “show that South Africa’s defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel’s defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them ‘in three sizes’.” The ‘three sizes’ can be understood, from other documents in the collection, to refer to warheads that could be conventional, chemical, or nuclear.
McGreal wrote,

    Botha did not go ahead with the deal in part because of the cost. In addition, any deal would have to have had final approval by Israel’s prime minister and it is uncertain it would have been forthcoming.
    South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs, albeit possibly with Israeli assistance. But the collaboration on military technology only grew over the following years. South Africa also provided much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel required to develop its weapons.
    The documents confirm accounts by a former South African naval commander, Dieter Gerhardt – jailed in 1983 for spying for the Soviet Union. After his release with the collapse of apartheid, Gerhardt said there was an agreement between Israel and South Africa called Chalet which involved an offer by the Jewish state to arm eight Jericho missiles with “special warheads”. Gerhardt said these were atomic bombs. But until now there has been no documentary evidence of the offer.

It was in September 1979 that a U.S. satellite, the “Vela Hotel”, detected a double flash of light over the South Atlantic that many specialists thought was an emission from a nuclear test conducted from a South African naval vessel, quite likely in coordination with Israeli specialists.

Discussing Hamas with Allister Sparks

I had the very good fortune to spend a couple of hours today chatting with Allister Sparks, the legendary South African journalist who was editor of the gutsy Jo’burg paper the Rand Daily Mail for four crucial years 1977-81 when it was a leader in uncovering many of the sins of apartheid. What I hadn’t realized before talking to him was the degree to which, in recent years, he has turned his considerable energies and wisdom to trying to understand– and in in his own way to start to de-escalate– the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
(By the way, we’re both in Doha. We’ve been at the World Press Freedom Day event here.)
In particular, he told me a bit about the personal fact-finding trip he made in September 2006 to Damascus, to talk with the Hamas leaders there. After undertaking that trip, he went to Israel and the occupied territories, traveling around quite widely and talking to lots of people there, too.
I’ve looked for an online version of things Sparks wrote at the time about the trip, but have so far been able to find only the account that appears in the bottom half of this January 2007 article.
Sparks was quite forthright in telling me thought the situation in the occupied territories is “like apartheid– or worse.”
In the piece I linked to he wrote,

    When I ceased to be Editor of the Rand Daily Mail and other papers and became a foreign correspondent for the Washington Post el al, I decided to visit the ANC in exile and check out those preconceived impressions. As I think you know, it was an eye-opening experience for me to discover how sophisticated and pragmatic they were. It was an experience that changed my entire outlook on what should happen in my own country.
    Recalling that, I decided to do the same with Hamas. So last September, on my own account and for my own personal interest, I flew to Damascus and spent two days at Hamas headquarters talking to their exiled leaders. Again it was an eye-opening experience to hear their side of the story and
    discover the degree to which they, too, are sophisticated, pragmatic people who I believe are the only ones capable of negotiating a peace agreement that could stick – since, like the ANC, they are the only ones whose control extends to the people with the guns.
    I came away with five hours of tape recorded conversation with these key leaders whom the authorities of both Israel and the US refuse to speak to – because they are “terrorists.” I don’t know of any other Western journalist who has done this. Why? Why haven’t these men and women who have preached to me over so many years about the importance of balanced reporting and getting “the other side of the story” done what I, with no funding or backing of any big organization, did?

Well, Allister, I have done it– also, like you, with no funding or backing from any big organization.
Anyway, I wanted to blog quickly here about a couple of the things he told me that struck a particular chord.
He said that when he was in Damascus, he had several long conversations with Mousa Abu Marzook, often described as Hamas’s deputy leader. (Khaled Meshaal was busy in meetings, but Sparks had one or more conversations with him by phone while he was there.)
He said that in those talks, he pitched to Abu Marzook the idea that if Hamas was successful in getting a hudna with (and therefore a meaningful degree of independence from) Israel, then they would most likely need to have numerous joint committees to coordinate various aspects of life… and that over time the work of those committees might become increasingly important, and the relations between Israel and Palestine would evolve into something like the EU, and later on into a single confederated body, something like Switzerland…
He said Abu Marzook expressed considerable interest in that idea. Later, when Sparks was in Israel, he pitched it to our mutual friend Yossi Alpher, who’s a ‘peacenik’ of the Left-Zionist variety, who had been born in the US and migrated to Israel as a young adult.
Sparks said that Alpher looked at him, absolutely aghast and finally stuttered, “But then we wouldn’t have Jewish state! It would be like living in a diaspora again– and this time, in such a dangerous place!”
Sparks remembered the word “diaspora” in there, very clearly. It is, obviously, a very strange word to use, since Yossi would still have been living in exactly the same place he’s living now.
Also, if the Israeli-Palestinian would have been solved for some time by that point, why would he think it would still be “dangerous”?
Sparks said he started to try to tell Alpher that he understood, perhaps, some of his consternation because he had watched the intense fear with which the Afrikaaners in his own country used, back in the bad old days, to view the prospect that their own political control over all of South Africa might one day have to be ended or diluted.
“I would have told him that the situation of the Afrikaaners in South Africa now is far better than it was in the days of apartheid. They are doing so well there these days! But I couldn’t tell him because he was still just too flabbergasted by the audacity of what I had proposed. I must say i was surprised by the vehemence of his reaction.”
Sparks then proceeded to tell me a number of things about the Afrikaaners and their culture that I hadn’t known before. He said that most of the Afrikaans-speaking ‘Whites’ had stayed in South Africa after the transition to democracy. (The country’s English-speaking “Whites”, by contrast, had many other options elsewhere– in Britain, Canada, Australia, the US, or New Zealand. So a greater proportion of them than of the Afrikaaners left once they’d lost their cushy, uber-privileged spot inside the system.)
He added,

    The Afrikaaners had no other place to go. South Africa was the only place they had to call ‘home.’ And since 1994, there has been a real flowering of Afrikaans-language culture in the country. Lots of poets and writers from their community who had started to write in English have been returning to Afrikaans. Did you know that the fourth largest media conglomerate in the whole world is one that started out as a small, regime-backed Afrikaans-language newspaper?

This is, by the way, the company that owns “News24” in South Africa… Allister said it also now owns a good chunk of People’s daily in China, and of Chinese Central TV. Who knew?
Oh, and on why the present situation in Palestine is worse than apartheid, he made these points:

    1. The land area of the Palestinian “archipelago” is so much more fragmented, and so much smaller in toto, than that of any of the Bantustans;
    2. “There was never a bloody great Wall around any of these Bantustans, let alone inside them, cutting them into even smaller fragments.”
    3. “The apartheid regime probably really did want the Bantustans to succeed. They invested much more in them than most people realize… But of course, even with all that investment, the project could never have succeeded.”

We also talked a little bit about Sparks’s former colleague (employee?) Benji Pogrund, another left Zionist who’s noticeably less of a peacenik than Alpher. I am interested in the fact that both Alper and Pogrund are people who made a conscious decision to immigrate to Israel when they were already adults. (In Pogrund’s case, already a very mature adult indeed.) For both of them, living as they previously did, in pretty darn secure places with good continuing prospects, migrating to Israel represented a conscious decision to participate in the Zionist project… So for them, perhaps, the concept of “Israel as a Jewish state” is something they’ve invested a lot in and believe in quite defiantly… Whereas most, or perhaps all, of the Jewish-Israeli supporters of a one-state (South African style) solution that I know are people who grew up in Israel…
Anyway, one big thought I had was that it would be excellent to bring Allister to the US to do some speaking gigs about the Palestine situation. He hasn’t been there since February 2006, when he did this interview with Amy Goodman. (At the very end there, he expresses some some support for the one-state idea.)
And since then, he’s been to Damascus, gained a lot more information, insight, and wisdom into the Palestine situation.
If not a live interview, why not a good, well-organized video-conference? He really is someone who can add some deep experience and valuable perspective to this whole discussion.
Do it soon, somebody!

Pres. Mbeki on the need to listen for the voice of peace; humility; possibilities of transformation

Every week, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa write a thoughtful message to his people — and to the world?– which is posted on the ANC website. The message that Mbeki posted there today is extremely thoughtful and inspiring, and definitely worth our reflection.
(Hat-tip to Dominic for signaling this.)
This message has basically two (or three) parts to it, which are loosely connected.. In the first part, he writes about the importance of staying open to hearing a message of peace when it comes– especially from those of our opponents whom sometimes it is very hard to “hear” accurately.
(This part of the message is also of historical importance, for those of us who seek to understand better how it was that the negotiations between the ANC and thr National Party actually got started back then in 1989-1990.)
Mbeki writes:

    At some point during 1989, in Lusaka, I received a message from Professor Willie Esterhuyse that we should meet in London. Accordingly, I informed our then President, the late Oliver Tambo, about this message. I told him that the indication was that Professor Esterhuyse would be bringing a message for the ANC from the apartheid government.
    President Tambo told me that one of his recurring nightmares was that one day this government would send us a message indicating its readiness to negotiate an end to the apartheid system, and that we would fail to understand the message and therefore fail to respond to it correctly.
    He said that over the centuries, and especially during the apartheid years, a deep gulf of mutual antagonism had developed between especially the African majority and the ruling white minority, especially the Afrikaners. He feared that so deep was this chasm that we had reached a stage such that the two sides would find it difficult even to hear each other.
    Hence his recurring nightmare that when the apartheid regime sent a message that it now wanted a genuine peace and an end to white minority rule, we would read this as being nothing but a ruse intended to demobilise us from struggle, with the aim of perpetuating apartheid. Thus as the possibility for a peaceful end to the apartheid system presented itself, we would decide that this was precisely the moment to intensify our just war against this system.
    He said that it might very well be that the message communicated by Professor Esterhuyse signified that the apartheid rulers were now ready to engage the ANC in discussions aimed at achieving a genuine peace and an end to white minority rule.
    He said that whatever might have been happening at that time, we needed to ensure that we did not make the grievous mistake of failing to hear a message of hope that our enemies might seek to communicate. He therefore authorised that I should proceed to London, listen to what Willie Esterhuyse had to communicate, and report back, which I did.
    And indeed Professor Esterhuyse had brought a message that the apartheid regime wanted to talk directly with the ANC leadership in exile. He conveyed the proposals made by the regime to establish direct contact between its representatives and the delegation that would be chosen by the ANC, and other matters relevant to the convening of the first meeting.
    President Tambo and other ANC leaders he consulted agreed that we should respond positively to all the suggestions conveyed by Professor Esterhuyse. The first meeting that began our process of negotiations, and therefore the very first meeting between the apartheid government and the ANC, took place in Switzerland. Jacob Zuma and I represented the ANC. The South African government was represented by two senior officials of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), Mike Louw and Maritz Spaarwater.
    This began a succession of meetings, which addressed the demand repeatedly made by our movement, that for any negotiations to take place, the necessary climate had to be created. Accordingly, by the end of 1989 we had agreed, among others, that Nelson Mandela and all other political prisoners would be released, and the ANC, the SACP and all other progressive organisations would be unbanned.
    By leaping over the gulf that separated the oppressed from the oppressor, to listen to, hear and understand the words communicated by the oppressor, our movement had managed to avoid transforming Oliver Tambo’s nightmare into reality.
    We can indeed say that when the drum of peace was sounded, we did not mistake this for a new summons to the war regiments. I have often wondered what would have happened to our country and people if we had allowed our history so to condition our minds that we failed to hear the message of the oppressor conveyed to us by Professor Esterhuyse!

Thank G-d they did! Thank G-d for Oliver Tambo’s quiet good sense and attentiveness to listening for the message of peace!
The other main part of Mbeki’s latest message is his reflection on an extraordinary event that took place a couple of weeks ago when Adriaan Vlok– who had been Minister for Law and Order during the last, and most repressive, days of the apartheid regime– turned up at the office of Frank Chikane, the director of Mbeki’s office… gave Chikane a Bible… asked if he could wash Chikane’s feet … and then pulled out a bowl and some water out of his bag and proceeded to do so.
To understand this gesture you need to recall the portion of the Bible where Jesus washed his disciples’ feet as a sign of his humility and love for them. You also need to understand what a ferocious, extremely inhumane and oppressive person Vlok had earlier been– throughout a long career in the security forces and in politics, and in his position as Minister in the 1980s and early 1990s.
For his part, Frank Chikane had been a Black pastor in South Africa in those days. But he was active with the pro-ANC grassroots movement, the UDF, and was defrocked from his church for that… Nonetheless, he became secretary-general of the SA Council of Churches– a frequent target of Vlok’s ire and several of his dirty tricks. In the 1980s, Vlok even tried to assassinate Chikane by poisoning a set of clothes with which he was traveling.
Mbeki, in his commentary today, noted that the recent foot-washing action undertaken by the 69-year-old Vlok had aroused some hostile reactions– both from Whites and from Blacks (for different reasons.)
His own commentary on the affair was this:

Continue reading “Pres. Mbeki on the need to listen for the voice of peace; humility; possibilities of transformation”

Worries in South Africa

    A friend sent me the following opinion piece, which is by veteran South African journalist Tony Hall. I am very honored and happy to be able to publish it on JWN because nearly 25 years ago, when I was a mixed-up single parent, fresh from having taken my kids out of the maelstrom of Beirut and trying to make ends meet as a journo in London, I did quite a bit of work for Tony, who was then editing a London-based weekly called ‘Eight Days’.
    I’m also happy to publish it here because I want JWN to deal with all kinds of global issues. So I need to work to make sure the Iraq mess doesn’t suck my energy out of everything else that’s happening in the world. The state of democracy in South Africa eleven years after 1994 is really important to me.
    Anyway, enough about yours truly…

Save the Alliance
View from the bush, mid-October 2005
By Tony Hall
There was widespread alarm and dismay around South Africa this past week, at the sight on our TV screens and front pages, of ANC supporters burning t-shirts bearing the face of President Thabo Mbeki.
It was one thing for protestors, including members of the ANC-allied trade unions and communist party, to be chanting “Zuma, Zuma” in support of the recently ousted Deputy President, as he marched through a big crowd towards the law courts in Durban to appear at the first hearing of a corruption charge.
It was quite another to see Mbeki so publicly vilified – the leader of the most popular party and government anywhere in recent decades, a man whose own struggle credentials and leading role in the liberation movement have never been questioned. His management of almost a decade of majority rule has been seen as competent and careful.
So the week sent a shock through the system and tragically, cracked open a fault line which started showing just a couple of years ago.
It was a magic, joyful day back in 1994 when people lined up for hours to vote. Democracy was won not only after hard negotiation, but after four years, from 1990, of widespread “third force” violence and mayhem to try and undermine the transition, instigated and managed by some leading members and foot-soldiers of the outgoing apartheid regime.
Thousands of black South Africans were killed, on trains, in hostels, in townships. A civil war raged in KwaZulu Natal, which could have led to its secession, and a former bantustan, the tribal apartheid ‘homeland’ Bophutatswana, was nearly restored after an uprising, to its stooge leadership. That could have led to another apartheid-supported breakaway, and the balkanisation of South Africa.
The story now unfolding, with people burning the image of their own president, begins with the policy choices made under President Mandela, whose early enthusiasm for empowering his people through the state was firmly sat on by the big corporations — and reviled by the now comfortably corporatised Afrikaner leaders whose example of using the state to economically empower their community he generously quoted.
Mbeki reinforced those “free market” policies…

Continue reading “Worries in South Africa”

South African apartheid’s ‘Total Strategy’

South African JWN commenter Dominic and I have both started working on trying to find a good–preferably primary-source– articulation of the “Total Strategy” developed by the apartheid regime in 1976-77 with a view to being able to do a good comparative study between that and what is probably the Bush administration’s authoritative articulation of the ‘Global War on Terror’, namely the National Security Strategy document of September 2002.
We’re not quite there yet. Any other interested JWN readers are warmly invited to join our little project. Also, if you yourself are unable to contribute to this work but know of someone else who might be interested, please forward this post to them!
The quick background on the ‘Total Strategy’ is that in 1974-76 two disastrous sets of things happened to the “security situation” and the “security strategy” pursued up until then by the apartheid bosses:

    (1) Portugal’s massive African empire completely collapsed, “handing over” control of the two large southern African states Mozambique and Angola to national-liberation movements that were firmly African-nationalist and because of the nature and history of their struggle favorably inclined to the Soviet Union.
    This was seen as the “collapse of vital buffer states”. Plus, of course, the example of victory provided by the nationalists in those two countries might–it was feared in Pretoria– serve as inspiration to SA’s own majority Black and other non-White populations… And
    (2) In 1976, the sprawling, Black-only “townships” of Soweto incubated the Soweto Uprising, a revolt by disaffected Black youth that spread rapidly through most of the country’s urban areas. The youth were rebelling against the perceived passivity of their own elders as much as against the continuation of White control. They sought to make the country “ungovernable”, and were much more radical than most of the older-generation supporters of the existing nationalist organizations.

You could say that the combination of those two sets of developments, both outside and inside the country, acted as a kind of “9/11” for the leaders of the apartheid government. They described what they saw happening as a Soviet-orchestrated “Total Onslaught” on the good, White, Christian, pro-western values that the apartheid system sought to uphold. This Total Onslaught had to be met with a “Total Strategy”, that would be pursued simultaneously both inside and outside the country and involved many elements of social control, and social and political manipulation, at many different levels– not just the immediately “military” level, but also including that very prominently indeed.
It does sound a lot like the Bush administration’s GWOT already, doesn’t it? I guess my aim is to flesh out this hypothesis as much as possible.
Dominic doesn’t think this portion of Vol. 2 of the TRC report gives much useful info about the TS. However, I think it’s not a bad place to start, especially paras 108-139 and 152-165.
Dominic has found a couple of really helpful (though still not primary) sources. One is a book that I think he picked off his bookshelf called

CSM column on South Africa, Thursday

Monday night and Tuesday morning I wrote a column for the CSM reflecting on the state of South Africa’s democracy, ten years after that historic first democratic election they had in April 1994. Of course, they had their third democratic election on Wednesday. My column is in Thursday’s paper. Tell me what you think.
Personally, I think I left out one important point, which is just the sheer human dignity factor of being recognized as a full citizen with all the rights and responsibilities pertaining thereto. I guess I was sort of taking that for granted. But I shouldn’t have.

Israel and South Africa compared

I wanted to write a bit about one of the conversations I had on Star island last week, one in which we were comparing the issues of Israel and South Africa. The person I was talking with was Heather Gregg, a nearly-done doctoral student at MIT…
(The following is a slight revision of something I put in the latter half of the post I put up on JWN on July 27. But it was kind of buried down there. So I gave it its own post, here.)
The main thing people tend to say when the Israel/South Africa comparison comes up is, “Well, of course, it’s unlucky the Palestinians don’t have a Nelson Mandela.” My main reactions to that are threefold.
Firstly, it is quite true that neither Yasser Arafat nor Mahmoud Abbas is Nelson Mandela. But it’s also true that neither Ariel Sharon nor any other Israeli leader is a Frederick W. De Klerk… Something real and important happened inside the Afrikaaner community during the 1980s that enabled their leaders to accept the hugely radical notion of– hold onto your chairs– human equality, and equal political rights for all of God’s children.
Has this happened n the Jewish-Israeli community yet? I honestly don’t think so.
Secondly, just because the palestinians don’t have a Mandela, does that mean we shouldn’t pay any attention to their claims? Was George Washington Mandela?
And then thirdly, it wasn’t just the personalities of Mandela and Tutu or any other individuals that allowed the ANC to win in its struggle for fully equal political rights for all South Africans. Face it, Mandela was in jail for 28 years, and quite incommunicado there for most of that time.
What it was that brought the ANC’s remarkable victory in the 1990-94 period was the clarity and discipline of the organization itself. It was decades of tireless organizational and political work that brought them victory: work that succeeded in mobilizing people from all sectors of the South African population.
And that was where one important part of the clarity came in. The ANC was quite clear that the South Africa they sought was one that included everyone, even whitefolks, on a basis of real political equality. The ANC had credible whitefolks in its leadership. It walked the talk… And that stance was not uncontroversial in a black community in which “Black Consciousness” ideas were also strong…
So it’s important to notice the huge differnces between the culture of the ANC and that of the PLO or, even more importantly, Fateh. Clarity? Discipline? Where are they?
Obviously, organizations like these are the creations of individual men and women. But rather than focusing on any individual charismatic qualities that Mandela undoubtedly does have (and Y. Arafat notably lacks), I think it’s much more useful to focus on the abilities each of those men and their respective comrades-in-arms showed in the field of building disciplined and ideologically clear national-liberatin organizations… And that’s where the really important difference between them lies.
Having said that, there are still many, many parallels between the actons of successive Israeli governments and that of the apartheid governments in South Africa… Including of course their highly discriminatory practices on the ground, and the attempt that both of those leaderships have sustained over the years to keep their own people, and their supporters around the world, mobilized by reference to the threat of what the Afrikaaners used to call a “Total Onslaught” from the hostile indigenous populatons all around them…
Well, more on this later. Send in some comments!

Vilakazi Street, Soweto

Another picture! This is from the afternoon that Leila, our friend Emily Mnisi, Emily’s friend Ria, and Ria’s daughter Rudo spent driving around Soweto. I guess it was May 4. We were on the only street on the planet that has been home to TWO Nobel Peace Prize winners!
The two in question are/were Nelson Mandela, and Archbishop Tutu. The Street is:
When we were there, a gaggle of lovely boys came up and started mugging around and singing the South African national anthem in a bunch of languages– including Afrikaans. Left to right in the pic: two of the boys, Emily, Leila, Ria, Rudo.
(Back in ’76, it was a new government requirement that schoolkids study additional subjects in Afrikaans that sparked the Soweto Youth Uprising. That was then; now is now… )
Just opposite this street sign is the house that Madiba and Winnie moved into in the 1950s. After he was imprisoned, she stayed living there for a while till the authorities moved her to some out-of-the-way place. I guess in the divorce settlement she got the house, and has since turned it into a museum…
Just down the street, Tutu and his family still own the big grey house he’s had here for many years, and he lives there sometimes, between his many peripatations (?) around the world.