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Millennium Post

History’s handmaiden

Time works in strange ways: history, more often than not, blind to its past offences, condemns civilisations to a cycle of erroneous judgments, repeating the same old violences and brutalities. But tireless striving in some form or the other floats atop the sea of injustices, to reappear in a shape that is indeed heart-warming. It’s probably only a coincidence, Nadine Gordimer’s death on 14 July also brought in its heels the news of Hashim Amla becoming the captain of the South African Test cricket squad. Gordimer, an anti-apartheid icon, a pillar of South African literary edifice (along with JM Coetzee and others), and a dear friend of the late Nelson Mandela, the country’s first black president elected with a free and fair democratic mandate, was one of the first voices to come out of South Africa that openly talked about the ‘colour bar.’ Awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1991, Gordimer’s novels, such My Son’s Story, The Conservationist, July’s People, A Sport of Nature, among others, explored in-depth the deep-seated animosities and everyday discrimination, humiliation and violence faced by the black and coloured people in South Africa under the racist Afrikaners regime. Being a white woman in a brutally compartmentalised and divided nation, Gordimer had to, time and again, prove her literary mettle inasmuch as the questions of authenticity, political cause and empathy were concerned. Several decades of relentless anti-apartheid movement later, South Africa finally saw the Afrikaner regime dismantled in 1994, and now, two decades since that happened, an Indian-origin Muslim national has been chosen to lead the national Test cricket squad, his ‘devout religiosity’ or beard notwithstanding. Amla is really the dream that Gordimer and her ilk had fought tooth and nail for. That the dream has finally come true, and South Africa has moved ahead in becoming the rainbow nation that it had aspired to become, is one happy truth we can all raise a toast to.       
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