The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 29, 1993 - 7
Reporter reflects on years spent in South Africa
By GREG MYRE
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa
- On my first workug a in South
Africa in 1987,1 wont to a funeral for a
slain Black activist.
On one of my last assignments, I
was in the dusty, Black township of
Tembisa trying to piece together the
overnight massacre of more than 30
In between, there were more days of
bloodshed than I care to remember.
Violence is a constant, creating an
atmosphere of perpetual crisis even as
the country moves toward.the planned
1994 election that will formally mark
the end of apartheid.
Almost all Blacks, and a solid ma-
jority of whites, support the election.
But they approach it warily, unsure
whether it will establish a multiracial
democracy or unleash new spasms of
bloodshed and racial hatred.
The distrust created by apartheid
cannot be summarily erased like segre-
The late writer Alan Paton issued a
warning against self-destruction in his
classicnovel on SouthAfrica, "Cry The
Beloved Country," published in 1948,
the year apartheid was formally intro-
* Near the end of the book, the Black
character Msimangu says, "'I have one
great fear in my heart, that one day
when they (whites) turn to loving they
will find we are turned to hating."
At times the country seems con-
sumedby rage, though it isby nomeans
limited to racial hatred.
Black factions are implacable foes,
and right-wing whites are furious with
PresidentF.W. de Klerk's plans torelin-
quish the white monopoly on power.
More than 10,000 blacks - and a
few dozen whites -havedied inpoliti-
cal violence during my time here, and I
find personal reminders of this in ev-
Flipping through my address book,
almost every page has the name of a
person who has been murdered. By the
time I reach 'N' the death count is into
double figures. Prince Malimbi, Mike
Mapongwane, Sam Ntuli...
A land of stunning, raw beauty,
South Africa has enough gold mines,
factories and rich farmland to make its
40 million people prosperous.
It also has enough guns and hatred
to lay itself to waste.
Whites have gone to extraordinary
lengths to build islands of safety. The
latest trend in the wealthy enclaves of
northern Johannesburg is to put electri-
fied fences atop the high walls sur-
rounding most homes.
Homeowners hope that will work
where locked gates, snarling dogs and
armed patrols have failed.
If the violence is a fixture, much
else in South Africa is changing. Six
years ago most apartheid laws were
still on the books and Johannesburg
was a mostly white city.
'Flipping through my address book, almost every
page has the name of a person who has been
murdered. By the time I reach "N" the death count
is into double figures. Prince MalimbI, Mike
Mapongwane, Sam Ntull ...'
Associated Press Reporter
ers sell blue jeans, watches and fruit.
Step inside the office buildings, and
there is an ever-increasing number of
Black businessmen in suits and ties.
For the emerging Blackmiddle class,
doors are opening. Many have moved
to the white suburbs and send their
children to private, integrated schools.
But for the vast majority of Blacks,
their lives have been getting worse and
the trend is likely to continue during the
Crime and violence hit them hard-
est. A 4-year-old recession has dried up
the job market.
Many schools are in chaos. Squat-
ter camps grow by the day as desperate
rural blacks move to the cities in search
of opportunities that do not exist.
For the outside world, SouthAfrica's
day of liberation will come with an
election and the installation of a Black
For the millions of Black South
Africans who look out at the world
from the front door of their squatter
shacks, prosperity remains a distant
Today it is overwhelmingly Black.
During the Saturday morning shop-
ping crush, at least 95 of every 100
people on the streets are Black.
Much of the commerce takes place
informally on the street, where hawk-
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I - B