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 Gordimer’s words defied language, for they spoke to the heart of a nation suffering together in a divided country.
With Ms Gordimer’s passing, the world has lost a great writer. But South Africa mourns the loss of a champion.
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Source : Inkatha Freedom Party