This year a special group of people will turn 20. Here in South Africa, they are known as the “Born Free” generation. They were born the year apartheid died. At that time universities geared up in anticipation of their arrival in 18 years. And the country has changed at a creditable rate.
The Born Frees are weighted with the responsibility of Freedom without personal knowledge of what it cost those who fought for it. While they may acknowledge cerebrally that Freedom is not Free, the cost was not theirs. They have heard the names: Govan Mbeki, Oliver Thambo, Ruth First, Steve BIko, Robert Sobukwe. . . many streets and highways are named after these revolutionary heroes. But they have not listened for their voices.
Born Frees (of all colours) have grown up in the compost of decaying apartheid: the ones raising them could not have totally eradicated its vestiges from their hearts or lifestyles. But this privileged crew leads the generation of Free South Africans. Without having experienced apartheid, they are striking out without a compass. They have a vague idea of the miasma their fathers lived through and finally pierced; but it is not enough to give a sense of direction. Which way to Justice?
I shudder to think that maybe apartheid will be denied and claimed a historical fiction, just as the Holocaust is being undermined by groups whose interest lies in its discrediting. But lest we forget, we have libraries of their memoirs, memorials in most major cities, and II have personally seen tattooed numbers on concentration camp survivors’ arms.
Dear fellow travelers on this planet, there are books by those who struggled living under apartheid, too. Books by the oppressed and by those whose colour identified themselves with the oppressors. The inhumanity of apartheid struck both ways--the brutalizers and brutalized. These are important books, but as time moves on other books are being published, and these landmarks--touchstones of history--are being neglected for more palatable stories.
This year I hope to use Soli Deo Gloria to remind us of where South Africa has been. To listen again to the Voices of Experience. To help us regain a moral compass so that South Africa, as a model for other nations, can show us how to learn from our mistakes and become nations of justice.
Each entry describing a book and noting its contribution will have “Every Stone Shall Cry” in its title. These will not be book reviews, per se. The goal is to encourage us to read these writers who have something still to say, particularly in the New South Africa. If we do not remind ourselves where we have been, we are in danger of going in circles and returning to where we were.
The goals are:
- That we never forget the inhumanity of discrimination.
- That we be inspired to read again that which sustains us.
- That we begin to think and wrestle with important ideas.
- That we grow in ubuntu, our humanity one with another.
If you have any books you would like to see considered, or are interested in making a guest contribution, please send me an email at: