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Old wounds re-open in South Africa

Peter van Dyk | 15:33 UK time, Monday, 1 May 2006

This isn't Peter, this is Ros - my login isn't working for some reason. Probably lack of activity, since it's not often I get to write posts on this blog. Some of the team might say it's because I'm lazy, but I'd rather explain that when I'm presenting I try and spend my afternoons making sure I'm fully prepared to talk with you on the programme.

Anyhow, here I am and it's good to be posting.

One of the subjects we're sure to pick up on tonight is the difference of opinion between of South Africa's most important figures - Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the country's ex-President FW de Klerk. The Archbishop thinks white South Africans aren't showing enough gratitude for the way black South Africans have behaved since the end of apartheid. Mr de Klerk thinks white South Africans aren't credited for their role in creating a democratic South Africa.

It's a fascinating debate and one I'm looking forward to hearing tonight. I used to live in South Africa in the late 1990s and was often struck by two things. The first was that black South Africans appeared to have no animosity towards white South Africans - something I found astonishing. Anger about apartheid seemed either to be well below the surface or simply not there. The second was how much some white South Africans complained. Far from all of them of course, but it was certainly a rare week when I didn't hear a white contemporary of mine attacking their employment opportunities, corruption or the crime rate. Now of course these are issues that people feel strongly about the world over. But what used to aggravate me was the lack of awareness that these problems may have been caused to some extent by apartheid.

I have been back several times since I lived in South Africa and each visit has made me acutely aware of the speed at which its changing. So I'm not going to pretend that experiences in the late 1990s count for too much now... But when I read Desmond Tutu's comments, I immediately felt I knew what he was talking about. Does that mean I am going to a biased during today's discussion? I don't think so. It just means I'm going to be fascinated to hear what those of you from South Africa have to say.


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