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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
THIS review is for "Honorary White" by E.R. Braithwaite (see discussion below)12 Mar. 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
This is about the author of "To Sir, With Love" going to South Africa while apartheid is still in effect. Again, as in "A Kind of Homecoming," he is a witness to history, and it's always more interesting to read a first-hand witness's accounts than just the usual media "sound bites"--especially a witness who's always so honest about his reactions and feelings (e.g. actual dismay at having his visa application APPROVED after he learned the South African government had UNbanned his writings--reminded me of when I asked my parents if I could go to my first dance in junior high & was COUNTING on their "no" as an excuse for avoiding something I was scared to death of, and then they said "yes," leaving me having to either find another excuse or face my fears!) The title comes from how the South Africans considered him in order for him to get treatment and prvileges that the resident blacks were denied.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Unity is Strength (Motto of apartheid South Africa)9 Feb. 2014
Rudolph M Ten-Pow
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
"Eendraag maak mag", old Dutch for Unity is Strength, is the motto of the South Africa that the author visits, presumably in 1974. An internationally known writer (To Sir with Love) and former President of the United Nations Council for Namibia, he was at first torn by the fear of being used for propaganda purposes when his books were unexpectedly unbanned and he was granted a visa to visit the country as an Honorary White. The pre-Mandela South Africa that he discovers and of which this book provides a gripping account turns that motto on its head. It is a country in which the races live in parallel and grossly unequal worlds - 4 million whites in the affluence created by the labor of 20 million blacks deliberately kept in dehumanizing conditions under the system of separateness or "apartheid". The pervasive fear, intimidation and seeming helplessness is captured memorably in the accounts of the ordinary blacks he meets in Soweto, the sprawling black township on the outskirts of Johannesburg, which, with great personal courage, he visits often at night and without the knowledge of the ubiquitous Government Information Office.
The author is in turn shocked, outraged and angry at the outward passivity of the black population which he compares, unfavorably, with the aggressive militancy of blacks in the United States of America. His meetings and conversations with white defenders of the system do little to stem his outrage. Only towards the end is a note of hope injected into the picture of unrelieved bleakness that he paints. He meets in his hotel room with a group of students from the University of Witwatersrand, at their request. Guarded at first, the students eventually share with him the doubts that plague them about the rightness of the white cause and their desire for the freedom to live in a just society. He hears of the courageous actions of many progressive white students and faculty and the personal price they were paying for their supposed "liberalism". The discussion is interrupted by a visit from the President of the University, who, at dinner at his home with his wife and other invitees, makes the author an offer for which he was totally unprepared. Join the faculty of the University on a three to six-month appointment as a guest professor to help bring about the change for which he had so eloquently advocated during dinner. The author equivocates and asks for time to consider the offer. The book ends without a decision, but it appears from the public record that the offer was never accepted.
As a Guyanese who has also served at the United Nations and visited Soweto in that capacity under the apartheid regime, this book resonates with me in a personal way. I encountered the same urgency on the part of the white South Africans I met to explain to me the rationale for the system. Our blacks are not like your blacks in Europe, the United States or the Caribbean. But, like the author, I too encountered decent whites who knew that the system under which they enjoyed their affluence was an immoral one and were prepared to do something about it.
E.R. Braithwaite, who will be celebrating his 102nd birthday this year and is reportedly working on his autobiography, must be gratified to see the new Republic of South Africa today