Monday, August 28, 2006

Could you overcome your pride?

Former apartheid minister of safety and security Adriaan Vlok's gesture towards repenting for his role in apartheid is striking. He washed the feet of someone who he felt symbolised apartheid victims, the Reverend Frank Chikane.

Even if you are not a Christian, the symbolism is moving. In a statement released jointly with Chikane today, he descibes the importance of giving up his pride in the action.

Vlok did not seek any publicity for the move - Chikane discussed the meeting after it happened, and when approached by the press, Vlok deflected questions to the Reverend.

The action has since been praised by President Mbeki, who described Vlok's actions as an extraordinary and moving gesture of reconciliation.

The meeting follows a statement by Archbishop Tutu some months back criticising whites for their lack of contrition for apartheid wrongs.

Well done Mr Vlok.

More on News24.


ATW said...

This behaviour indicates that perhaps the time is ripe for another TRC. Or at least a follow-up forum. As DeLille so rightly says it takes some time to really ruminate on one's behaviour and take responsibility for doing something wrong that you probably believed at the time was right.

Vlok too sought to "contextualize" human rights violations perpetrated by the apartheid state by attributing these actions to anxieties and fears of "communist terrorists" and totalitarian tendencies within the ANC and SACP alliance. In a preface to his 84-page application to the TRC, Vlok portrays himself as a committed Christian who devoted his political career to countering the perceived communist onslaught. While Vlok acknowledges that "apartheid did result in pain and suffering" he ends up concluding that "Marxism/communism's record was more terrible.

This sort of national and individual catharsis was one of the outcomes that we hoped to get out of the TRC. Vlok, I believe, was one of those who was relatively honest at the TRC hearings and was awarded amnesty on that basis. He wasn't really in denial then, and now he has confirmed that.

The issue is with the many who are remain in denial or fail to acknowledge the evil consquence of their action no matter how they ruminate on the issue.

But what real value does this add other than to make Vlok feel a little better about himself and to shake the demon that is weighing on his mind? It is/was a private event and I think that is where it should remain.

So, to rebut my opening sentence - no, another public TRC is not the answer. Let those haunted by private demons find solace and redemption wherever they see fit and outside the gaze of scrutiny.

If the country is to follow Vlok's example Chikane is going to be a busy man.

How is this for a tongue in cheek solution?

Let the same people who were eligible to vote in DeKlerk's "1991 November 2" referendum which I think would be an appropriate cut-off point whether they voted then or not, vote on the following question:

Would you like to apologise to the people of South Africa who were negatively affected by your action (or inaction) as a citizen of this country? (needs work but you get the gist?)

YES : I would
NO : I would not
Not Applicable : I did all I could to fit the evil scourge of apartheid.

Regardless of the outcome, 20% or 80% Yes, then a nominated person could wash Chikane's feet, or Yengeni's or perhaps a random individual selected by a lottery of ID numbers, on behalf of these remorseful folk.

Oranje_Orakel said...

Good point ATW

And such a moment should be made into a monument- next to the Trotters one on Thaba Tswane Hehehe

I agree fulle with the sentiment