A chance to reflect

WHETHER or not Winnie Madikizela-Mandela told journalist Nadira Naipaul what the hack said she told her, one thing is for certain: the article revealed some uncomfortable thoughts about the South Africa that emerged from a negotiated political settlement.

WHETHER or not Winnie Madikizela-Mandela told journalist Nadira Naipaul what the hack said she told her, one thing is for certain: the article revealed some uncomfortable thoughts about the South Africa that emerged from a negotiated political settlement.

The views attributed to Madikizela-Mandela, but which she denies, will have as many backers as detractors.

Some of the points are self-evident truths, while others might only be known by members of her family.

We know that ours is, by universally accepted standards, the country with the biggest gulf between the rich and poor, with black people having grown poorer than they were in apartheid years.

Other issues are much more contentious and nuanced. It would be irresponsible to attempt to deal with them in one fell swoop.

What is helpful about the article is that it allows us to engage certain home truths that have been left unattended.

We have, thanks to the article, fictitious or not, an opportunity to engage on contested legacies of the negotiated political settlement and assumption of Nelson Mandela's image as universal icon.

It is not given that we will arrive at a common conclusion about any of the issues raised by the article. Our affections and prejudices are likely to hinder a common conclusion.

And there lies the beauty of it all. We need not agree on anything, but whatever happens we cannot afford to shout down those who hold views we do not like or sweep under the carpet opinions that make us uncomfortable.

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