There are writers who can inspire!3 days ago, on July 13 2014, one of those, named Nadine Gordimer, died.
She was an anti-apartheid activist and won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She seemed, sadly, like an outstanding person for us, South Africa, to lose.
Thankfully, she died in her sleep at the fantastic age of 90.
Reading of her death reminded me that i, as a schoolboy in 1989, entered the Alan Paton Speech Competition with my essay entitled “The Consequences of Inequality According to Nadine Gordimer’s ‘July’s People’” – yes, that was a mouthful but i wish that i had that essay now for it was part of my growing awareness of reality.
It was people such as Gordimer who helped me question everything, especially apartheid. That book was a motivator towards me gaining special permission from the Education Department to make my main History project on apartheid, allegedly the first in the Natal school system (though i would expect that to be, ironically, rephrased as “white school system”).
It led me on an interesting journey wherein Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) (which was a powerhouse back then) sent me an encouraging letter. Shortly thereafter, i gained use of the Inkatha Freedom Institute (unsure if i recall the organisations name correctly) which was a library of political resource. There i met Gavin Woods who would go on, as the Chairman of SCOPA, to be on the front line fighting South Africa’s notorious arms deal.
Early in 1990, i was one of a handful of students who secretly met a very charismatic Mosiuoa ‘Terror’ Lekota who’d recently been released after serving 4 and a half years on Robben Island as a consequence of the infamous Delmas Trial. He would go on to founding COPE (which may be currently imploding but was significant as it was the first crack in the ANC’s veneer).
Despite 4 years of apartheid remaining, there was obviously a wind of change as the ANC, PAC and others were unbanned. My journalism class, at Natal Technikon, apparently, became the test case for the first mixed race learning in higher education in the province. It was a difficult period… but a short one as i dropped out after only 4 months.
Aiming to be an activist, and expecting to be on the run from the apartheid government, i was suddenly free of that weight. Ironic to some but logical for me always wanting to experience new things (there were other reasons too), i volunteered for national service in the South African Air Force. That would be a whole story in itself.
The next year, in 1991, Gordimer won the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first woman to do so in 25 years.
Writers can open our minds and inspire us. Thank you Nadine Gordimer! Yours was a life well lived!
PS: If my memory has failed me on any details, or if i was misinformed of events, your input is welcomed.