Mhambi has been redeployed.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The responsibility of a leader

Antjie Krog covered the Truth and Reconcilation Comission hearings as a journalist. Journalism she won severla prizes for, and which she compiled into the book Country of my Skull.

The hasty arrival of a bodyguard and senior politicians brings me to my senses.

"You have fallen hook line and sinker for the ANC's attempt to put the blame on the Afrikaner. And I am sorry - I will not tkake the blame for people who acted like barbarians, who ignored the paramaters of their duties, they are criminals and ought to be punished."

I think of her (her mother) and how I love her. How I was brought up with what is the best and the proudest in the Afrikaner. And I wonder about the responsibility of a leader.

Should'nt he be establishing a space within which we can confront ourselves and our past? Should'nt he bring to the table the Afrikaners blunt honesty and fearlessness to grabble with the impossible? So that we canb perticipate in the building of this country with self-respect and dignity?

Can't he just say: " I did'nt know, but I will take the responsibility. I will take responsibility for all the atrocities committed under the National Party's rule over the last 50 years. I will lay wreaths where people had been shot, I will collect money for the victims, I will ask forgiveness and I will pray. I will take the responsibility. I will take the blame."

Is truth that closely related to identity? It must be. What you believe to be true depends on who you believe yourself to be.

I look at the Leader in front of me, an Afrikaner leader. And suddenly I know: I have more in common with the Vlakplaas five (Police death squad members) than with this man. Because they have walked a road, and through them some of us have walked a road, and hundreds of Afrikaners are walking this road - on their own with their own fears and shame and guilt. And some say it, most just live it. We are so utterly sorry. We are deeply ashamed and gripped with remorse. But hear us, we are from here. We will live it right - hear - with you, for you.

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