Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Forgiveness - a multipurpose headline
Apologies for the slow blogging, this week has been pretty heavy at work, so let me first ask for forgiveness for that. Secondly, a few people have asked me my view on the very weighty discussion of Vlok's ceremonious washing of the feet of Rev. Chikane. In my opinion this is a personal process of forgiveness by Adriaan Vlok and I think should be viewed only as such. I believe that it is being misread by both supporters and sworn enemies alike, who are both using it to reopen old wounds. It's a magnanimous move on Vlok's part, but one that he is doing this for personal reasons, and I think people that have tried to equate it with national reconciliation are overstating its importance.

I think to hold the view that this compensates for Vlok's vicious past is simply delusional. There were too many lives ripped apart by his actions to ever build forgiveness with the nation as a whole. But this is exactly the point. I think that Vlok did this for his own personal reasons, not to engender favour with the nation, he must surely know that this is beyond the scope of his abilities.

This is a man who had one of the most despicable pasts within the apartheid regime, and this will not replace the judicial process. I agree with commentators who have said that Vlok must tell his story before he asks from forgiveness from the nation. Which again brings me back to the point - this is a personal admission of guilt and request for forgiveness as he goes through his own redemptive process.

I happened to be at a well known wine estate near Hermanus a few weeks ago, and had the misfortune of tasting wine when 'Dr' Wouter Basson walked in. It gave me cold chills just to be in his presence and I was never affected by his actions. I cannot comprehend what it must have felt like for those affected by Vlok's actions to hear about this ceremonial washing, but I really do think that it overstates its importance. Reconciliation must come from the everyday people that are going forward to build this great nation, and I see little role for the worst of apartheid's brutality.