© Photojournal: Philippus Johan Schutte.
"We are living in the best-case scenario for this country - something that would have seemed laughably optimistic looked at from at any time in the early 1980s. Nelson Mandela and the millions who put their faith in him, who accepted his example rather than a more worldly response to 350 years of dispossession and cruelty, and who chose patience and forgiveness for whites…all those people by their generosity changed our national problems from simple and deadly ones (like civil war or Irish or Indian or Palestinian partition) to complex ones, like building a human rights-based democracy unique in the world.
I thank Madiba for complex problems. I thank everyone who f*ed up their families and their careers for a very far away, very risky dream of basic dignity in this always-difficult country. I am not brave enough to have a rubbish time for years on the basis of an ideal; when I think that people like me, younger than me, stopped having anything nice and made bombs, waited out decades in drizzling European capitals, sat bored out of their minds in jail; accepted hours, then days, then months and years of enthusiastic torture by authorities when saying a few names would have made it better immediately; watched opportunities pass them by because their names were blacklisted; went endlessly to humble jobs; learned to sit quiet when relatives disappeared, or lost limbs - and then I think that there were thousands upon thousands of people like that, and the end product of all their sufferings and everything being shit all the time is that I can sit at a desk in Cape Town, in the same neighbourhood my ancestors set about entrepreneurially wrecking in the 1700s, feeling only intermittent gratitude, then I know that democracy is a personal transfer of gifts from them to me. In a weak and cowardly and eventual way, I must do something with that gift.”