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The Mind's Kala Pani
Making a radio programme on the Mahatma's 21 years in South Africa proved an excellent excuse for exploring this vast country. On the slopes of Cape Town's Table Mountain in the cathedral where Archbishop Desmond Tutu used to preach, I listened to a sermon on the South African principle of Reconciliation—of forgiveness—echoing with pride in the process of reconciliation begun after the defeat of apartheid 10 years ago. Just offshore on Robben Island, South Africa's Kala Pani, former political prisoners now show visitors around. They have had to practice reconciliation, and it hasn't been easy. The guide who took us to the blinding white limestone quarry where Nelson Mandela did hard labour said, "I was told that by coming back here, the old wounds would heal, but every time they are fresh again." A former anc activist who was jailed for successfully bombing a government building—killing no one—told us, "The three policemen who broke my ribs and shot my father eight times went to the Truth Commission and confessed, and they are prosperous businessmen. My father is still in a wheelchair." Both, though, were still proud of having fought a system and not the individuals in it—a thoroughly Gandhian principle—and of winning over some of their white warders to their cause.