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New Left Review I/213, September-October 1995

Nadine Gordimer

Violence and Mr De Klerk’s Line of Duty

In the mid seventies I wrote a novel in which the body of an unknown man, found murdered, was shovelled by the police under shallow earth among reeds. When the drought broke and the river rose, so did he. That body comes back to me as a metaphor for what is happening to us in South Africa now. The Truth Commission is contemplating that body, which is androgynous in its representation of the ‘permanent removal’ of men and women who obstructed, with all their determined conviction, the continuation of apartheid under any avatar of racist gods. As a South African citizen who sits on no Commission, I feel vitally concerned to form my own sense not only of the cleansing of the past by confession, but of the connections between the past and what is happening in the present; to follow the roots that travel underground from what is supposed to be a felled, dead tree.

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Nadine Gordimer, ‘Violence and Mr de Klerk’s Line of Duty’, NLR I/213: £3

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