Antjie Krog hat in ihrem höchst informativen und zur Nachdenklichkeit zwingenden Buch auch ihre eigene Erfahrung als Farmertochter eingebracht, und dem Leser den südafrikanischen Teufelskreis plastisch vor Augen geführt: Die Verelendung der Schwarzen durch die Apartheidgesetze; die daraus für sie folgende Notwendigkeit von Diebstählen, so dass die Schwarzen in den Townships überleben konnten; die Bewaffnung der Weißen, um ihr Eigentum zu schützen; der wachsende Hass, der auf beiden Seiten zu weiteren Brutalisierungen führte: Der Farmerfamilie, die einen schwarzen Dieb erschossen hatte, wurde oft das Haus angesteckt und meist wurden vorher Familienmitglieder haßerfüllt gequält oder exekutiert. Antjie Krog zeigt auch, wie auch ihre weiße Familie nach der Demokratisierung des Landes gespalten wurde. Bei den einen lässt der Hass gegen die Schwarzen nicht nach. Ihr Bruder will auswandern. Antjie Krog fragt: „Wo willst du denn hin, Südafrika ist deine Heimat.“ Das ist ihre Botschaft an die Weißen Südafrikas. - Es ist eines der besten Bücher über das neue Südafrika, das ich auch der Binnenperspektive gelesen haben. Es ist ohne Einschränkung zu empfehlen.
Antjie Krog's book is an attempt to come to terms with South Africa's past through the experience of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I'm not too sure whether she succeded in that attempt by the end of the book, but what is undeniable is that it makes the reader understand the power of narrative in trying to give order to the past, however chaotic this might have been. I found Krog's poetic style somewhat distracting, and, sometimes, she dwells on irrelevant details. However, her accounts of the many testimonies she attended while reporting on the TRC are oftentimes powerful and heartwrenching, and they deserve to be read by anyone interested in understanding what was South Africa under the apartheid regime. I highly recommend this book.
I bought my copy of "The Country of My Skull" while on a trip to South AFrica in August, 1998. This is the first-hand observers view of the South African apartheid amnesty hearing in front of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu). This is a gripping and unsettling book. Hard to read because of the intensity of the tales that are retold by the author. But this is an important book because we learn again the extent of man's inhumanity to man. If you are interested in South Africa, politics, racial relationships, or human struggle against injustice, this is a "must read" book. Nothing like it has ever been published.
This book struck me, as an Afrikaner, as a catharsis in itself. It enacts what it describes. It is its own peculiar truth commission for each reader. Foreign readers will not share this special experience, but will be absolutely enthralled by the poetic rendition of what appears to be a struggle to get to grips, in literary terms, with an immense personal experience. There are some very disturbing parts. My criticism is that the self-conscious literary symbolism at times appears to be strained, and to be at odds with the dialogue, or with the dramatic moment. What is essentially brooding cogitation is often presented rather implausibly as natural dialogue. It should be remembered that Krog is a poet. One should read the book as one would a dramatic monologue displaying someone trying to cope with a confused flood of guilt, elation, sadness and hope. And racial shame. The book represents an experience well worth the inevitable depression that will accompany its reading. It is also an extremely successful presentation, in digestible and dramatic format, of a phenomenon that remains crucial to the post-apartheid South African reality. It is, in other words, good history and good journalism as well as good poetry.
This book is a portrait painted with words. It depicts people during the clash of their ideologies and has such a dark theme; bringing to living color the violent aspect of a country caught in the fervor during change. It says look what people can do if they think there is a justification for it. There was no simple division of sides. All different races and agendas clashed, often against their own, as South Africa shuddered under the torrent of revolutionary storms. From Antjie Krog's book, sorrow is likely to be embedded directly into the reader's soul. The human toll for South Africa was high, and now history is left to judge the result. I've never been to South Africa, but a dear friend of mine lives there. I find both the book and the country fascinating.
I purchased this book in South Africa in March, 1998. I lived in Cape Town in 1984 and 1985 and was surrounded by the emerging events that ultimately led to the demise of Apartheid. This book is powerful since it is written by an Afrikaner author who not only relates the horrors presented before the Truth & Reconciliation Commission but also shares her own struggle to reconcile herself with the legacy of her country. This will be a challenge for the reader without first hand knowledge of Aparthied South Africa. Anyone who wants to struggle to understand such a place must read this book.
Antjie Krog is an Afrikaner journalist and poet who followed South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission from beginning to end. In this book she is not so much reporting on and analyzing the work of the commission, but rather she is telling stories that demonstrate how the various stakeholders felt about the proceedings. It becomes clear that true and complete reconciliation of South Africa's alienated peoples is impossible, but at the same time one sees how beautiful and necessary the attempt can be. To summarize the theme of the book: When a society begins to realize the extent of its evils, what does it do? How can the past be left behind in favour of a free and informed future?