15 July 2014.
The peaceful passing of Ms Nadine Gordimer on
Sunday has given us pause to think of the many bright lights in
the creative field of South Africa who used their talents to
point out the need for social change and to push for political
freedom. Ms Gordimer was foremost among them, and was recognised
in her own lifetime as a remarkably gifted writer.
I had the honour of knowing Ms Gordimer,
through our mutual friends, Mr Alan Paton and Dr Kesaveloo
Goonam, both significant voices of the liberation struggle. I
admired her writing and the ability she had to express the
painful effects of apartheid on a variety of people. She was
able to see life through many different lenses, and portray it
in a way that helped us understand too.
She never left South Africa, and she chose to
become active in politics, not merely to write about it. I
recall her accompanying Mr Nelson Mandela to the conflict-torn
Thokoza in December 1990, just minutes after I visited the
community myself. I was still waiting to meet with Mr Mandela
after his release, so that we could pursue reconciliation
between our supporters.
It was painful, when the UDF emerged, that Ms
Gordimer bought into the anti-Inkatha propaganda. But I
respected the fact that she was willing to take sides, and
willing to take a stand for her beliefs and her country.
I recall an interview she gave in 2010 at the
Hay Festival in Wales, where she mentioned her regret at having
lived her life in Africa without learning an African language.
While she wrote in English, Ms Gordimerís words defied language,
for they spoke to the heart of a nation suffering together in a
With Ms Gordimerís passing, the world has lost
a great writer. But South Africa mourns the loss of a champion.
Contact: Ms Lyndith Waller on 073 929 1418