Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa
Ever since Nelson Mandela dramatically walked out of prison in 1990 after twenty-seven years behind bars, South Africa has been undergoing a radical transformation. In one of the most miraculous events of the century, the oppressive system of apartheid was dismantled. Repressive laws mandating separation of the races were thrown out. The country, which had been carved into a crazy quilt that reserved the most prosperous areas for whites and the most desolate and backward for blacks, was reunited. The dreaded and dangerous security force, which for years had systematically tortured, spied upon, and harassed people of color and their white supporters, was dismantled. But how could this country--one of spectacular beauty and promise--come to terms with its ugly past? How could its people, whom the oppressive white government had pitted against one another, live side by side as friends and neighbors?
To begin the healing process, Nelson Mandela created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by the renowned cleric Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Established in 1995, the commission faced the awesome task of hearing the testimony of the victims of apartheid as well as the oppressors. Amnesty was granted to those who offered a full confession of any crimes associated with apartheid. Since the commission began its work, it has been the central player in a drama that has riveted the country. In this book, Antjie Krog, a South African journalist and poet who has covered the work of the commission, recounts the drama, the horrors, the wrenching personal stories of the victims and their families. Through the testimonies of victims of abuse and violence, from the appearance of Winnie Mandela to former South African president P. W. Botha's extraordinary courthouse press conference, this award-winning poet leads us on an amazing journey.
Country of My Skull captures the complexity of the Truth Commission's work. The narrative is often traumatic, vivid, and provocative. Krog's powerful prose lures the reader actively and inventively through a mosaic of insights, impressions, and secret themes. This compelling tale is Antjie Krog's profound literary account of the mending of a country that was in colossal need of change.
known the coldness and the bleakness [die koud-heid en die kil-heid] of jail cells, whose life has always been woven into the wide waving veld of freedom, for him, Honorable Chair, for him amnesty is . . . a fire ofjoy.
The mere fact that a deed must have a political motive to qualify the perpetrator for amnesty is proof enough that the politicians should be the essence of the Truth Commission's inquest. It is not the police who came up with apartheid, ...
idea of moral responsibility—that is why I suggested a combination of the amnesty process with the process of victims' stories.” Victims, and not perpetrators, should be the beginning, the focus, and the central point of the legislation ...
... blanket amnesty to be discussed. Through clenched jaws, the civil service law-writer hisses: “It's a web of a law—a moerse web. If you change anything, you 14 BEFORE THE COMMISSION.
A handmade cross rests against the wall—Jesus looking more like an amnesty-seeker than a victim. While we wait, a colleague tells us this story. “When Tutu comes to preach in Namaqualand," he says, “it's so hot, it's always hot on a ...
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Country of my skull: guilt, sorrow, and the limits of forgiveness in the new South AfricaUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Krog, a poet and the parliamentary editor for South African Broadcasting Corporation radio, has written a remarkable, moving, often painful account of the South African Truth and Reconciliation ... Read full review
FOUR The Narrative of Betrayal Has to Be Reinvented Every Time
FIVE The Sound of the Second Narrative
Let Us Hear It in Another Language
NINE The Political Page Curls over Itself
The Lesser of Two Evils
In Transit with the Ghosts
FIFTEEN It Gets to All of Usfrom Tutu to Mamasela
SEVENTEEN Then Burst the Mighty Heart
EIGHTEEN The Shepherd and the Landscape of My Bones 259
NINETEEN A Tragedy of Errors
TWENTY Mother Faces the Nation
TWENTYONE Beloved Country of Grief and Grace
TWELVE The Political Tongue at Anchor
THIRTEEN Blood Rains in Every Latitude 175
FOURTEEN Letters on the Acoustics of Scars
Cast of Characters