Firstly, I am a English speaking South African raised in a home that was fairly liberal with the exception that our mantelpiece had a bust of Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener with a portrait of Jun Smuts on the wall, something I never had the chance to discuss with my father. My mother and father separated when I was 5 and I was raised by my Zulu nanny who I loved and respected as I would my own mother.
I left South Africa my home 15 years ago and now live in France.
Reading this book has opened many wounds and also, find myself asking a few questions. I was unable to put the book down and going through it, I looked back on what I was so a part of. I was there.
I feel that the author has been unnecessarily brutal in the way he has portrayed the Afrikaners, even attacking the language. Let's make no marbles about it, apartheid was the most evil system of oppression one could imagine, but, it was not the start of the oppression of the black man. We have colonialism to thank for that. Like so many dictatorships, many were led and influenced by the few. Not all of us were in the position to pack our bags and draft dodge for 8 years.
Do not be fooled into believing that the west had no part through out those years in upholding the Nationalist Government whilst it suited their policies and pockets. Colonialism has raped and plundered Africa and the Aid we now give them is a pittance of what they deserve. In my opinion the Afrikaner is as much an African as the Zulu, Xhosa or Shangaan. At this moment I would not want to find my self being an Afrikaner in South Africa.
I found that the Author was a self romantic who overplayed the positions he found himself in and was rather annoyed at the fact that he portrayed Neil Alcock as the first white man to live and be a truly white man accepted as an African. The Catholic Church has many, not a few, as Rian Malan states, of Fathers, Sisters, Brothers and teachers who have given their lives to this cause, living with and being part of communities.
I personally think Neil Alcock was a wonderful man, however, I feel he was obsessed and this was not always conducive to what he wanted to achieve. In some cases it caused more pain and suffering to those he tried t help.
After reading the book, I asked myself as to what the author was actually trying to achieve other that highlight the brutal crime committed by whites and blacks alike and having a go at Afrikaners in general.
You are foolish if you can believe that all crimes where born of the reason of apartheid. Tugs, or Tsotsies, as Rian calls them were brutal, sadistic criminals and in most cases committed crimes against there own kind far worse than any black was subjected to by whites.
I witnessed these crimes as I was in Soweto in 1976 and was deployed into the townships in 1984/5 and still can't get over what I was witness to and was part of.
I served on the Border in 1977 / 1981/2 and would rather have been in SWA or Angola than be in the townships.
To use the term `Saint' anywhere near the name of Simon Mpungose is disrespect to those he murdered. He was nothing more that a sadistic murderer, why is it justified that Rian find a reason for his horrific crimes, yet not extent the same courtesy to the Afrikaner.
I would love to see a follow up book by Rian and what reason he would now give for the crimes committed in South Africa, the murder and rape capital of the world. The people commining these crimes now are in majority of the same character and of those who used UDF, Azapo, ANC to justify there horrific crimes.
I do not have the answers and know that the whole picture is rather more complex than portrayed in this book. It is a good read, but, slightly misleading if you are uninformed and were not there to witness the truth