The Palestine-Israel Journal is a quarterly of MIDDLE EAST PUBLICATIONS, a registered non-profit organization (No. 58-023862-4).
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Editorial Board

Hisham Awartani

Danny Rubinstein

Sam'an Khoury

Boaz Evron

Walid Salem

Ari Rath

Zahra Khalidi

Daniel Bar-Tal

Ammar AbuZayyad

Galit Hasan-Rokem

Khaled Abu Aker

Galia Golan

Nazmi Ju'beh

Gershon Baskin

Edy Kaufman

Ata Qaymari

Benjamin Pogrund

Nafez Nazzal

Simcha Bahiri

Nadia Naser-Najjab

Dan Jacobson

Jumana Jaouni

Dan Leon

Anat Cygielman

Khuloud Khayyat Dajani

Izhak Schnell



Vol. 18 No. 2 & 3, 2012 / Civil Society Challenges 2012

Culture

Chapters on South African civil society from his book “Equalizer: Building the New South Africa”

     by Alon Liel

The following passages are excerpted from Sha’ar Shivayon (Equalizer), his book about South Africa 20 years after the collapse of Apartheid, published in Hebrew by Hakibbutz Hameuchad-Sifriat Poalim Publishing Group in 2011. Translated into English by Gili Ostfield and Danielle Kerem.

Jessica Gemada

A day off from the Fifa World Cup soccer (football) tournaments. The squads that made it through to the quarterfinals need rest. This is a good opportunity to visit a close friend from the old days, Bertie Lubner — a Jewish leader, a Zionist and a South African patriot. Thanks to Bertie, we are staying in Ricki and Peter’s home, and Ricki is the one who sends me the driver who brings me straight to Bertie’s office in the Johannesburg Hyde Park neighborhood. After the hugs and kisses a problem arises: He wants to talk about Israel and I want to talk about South Africa. As Bertie is the host, the topic of Israel seizes the agenda. He is very unhappy about Israel’s image in South Africa and begins to tell me about the damaging impact of the raid on the Mavi Marmara flotilla. Years have passed since I served as an ambassador, but I still can’t manage to escape Israeli affairs in such a reunion. Bertie loves Israel dearly and speaks from the bottom of his heart. When we finish talking about the Middle East, I manage to tell him that I am trying to see what has happened to Apartheid 20 years later.

“First of all, visit one of the projects of MaAfrikaTikkun (Bertie’s humanitarian aid organization, since renamed Afrika Tikkun) and see with your own eyes,” he tells me and immediately calls Harvey Rosenberg, the organization’s director, to make the arrangements. “Aside from this,” he says, “see what is happening in my office. More than half of the workers here are black; talk to them.”


“Recommend someone,” I say to him.
“Talk to Jessica,” he says.

Her name is Jessica Gemada; she is 22 years old and is a beautiful young lady. She was born in the Free State province, which is in the center of South Africa, in a small village named Tweeling. Her mother was a municipal worker and was politically active in the United Democratic Front (UDF) and later also in the African National Congress (ANC), which became legal in 1990. It was a single parent family, with no father in the picture. Six years prior to our introduction, her mother passed away in her thirties, leaving Jessica and her brother, who is five years younger, on their own. As she had a grandmother and an aunt in Alexandra, the black township near Sandton, it was the only place she could go. She picked up and went with her brother to start over from scratch in her grandmother's tiny house in Alexandra. She registered for studies in a boarding school in the Midrand neighborhood, where all the students were black. Her uncle paid the school fees.

Her name is Jessica Gemada; she is 22 years old and is a beautiful young lady. She was born in the Free State province, which is in the center of South Africa, in a small village named Tweeling. Her mother was a municipal worker and was politically active in the United Democratic Front (UDF) and later also in the African National Congress (ANC), which became legal in 1990. It was a single parent family, with no father in the picture. Six years prior to our introduction, her mother passed away in her thirties, leaving Jessica and her brother, who is five years younger, on their own. As she had a grandmother and an aunt in Alexandra, the black township near Sandton, it was the only place she could go. She picked up and went with her brother to start over from scratch in her grandmother's tiny house in Alexandra. She registered for studies in a boarding school in the Midrand neighborhood, where all the students were black. Her uncle paid the school fees.

Jessica studied seriously and her grades were good. She heard by word of mouth about the Mitzvah School in the Morningside neighborhood. The Mitzvah School has been around for more than 20 years. It is an exceptional initiative run by good Jews, who recruit 50 excellent black students each year, all of them from Alexandra, for one year only — the year before graduation — and provide them with the very best teachers. All the students — 100% — successfully graduate every year.

Every young person in Alexandra knows about the Mitzvah School. Everyone talks about it. Everyone knows that to be accepted to the Mitzvah School means succeeding in life.

“It’s not really a school,” Jessica says. “It’s an annual studies operation. Throughout the entire year they prepare you for the matriculation exams on an almost personal basis. The ‘Mitzvah School’ doesn’t have its own staff of teachers: It takes the best teachers from other local schools, and for the teachers it is an additional job. There is no teacher who teaches only at the ‘Mitzvah School’. Almost all of the teachers are white, with the exception of the teachers who teach the African languages (Jessica chose to specialize in English and Afrikaans). We didn’t know which of them [were] Jewish but we knew that some of the teachers also taught at King David (the Jewish secondary school in Johannesburg).”

“When I arrived at the Mitzvah School,” Jessica continues, “I didn’t recognize any of the other students, even though all of them were from Alexandra. Half were boys and half were girls. It wasn’t a boarding school. The school bus picked us up from our homes in the morning and brought us back in the evening. We worked very hard. There was almost no social life. Everyone took it very seriously.”

All 50 students graduated successfully. Jessica received good grades and the Mitzvah School gave her a scholarship to study bookkeeping. There were also several scholarships for other areas of study, but they weren’t recommended to her. Jessica enrolled at the Boston Business College in Randburg, Johannesburg, for a year of intensive training to obtain a bookkeeping diploma. Shortly before the end of her studies, when she was only 19 years old, she received a telephone call from Arnold, who is responsible for MaAfrika Tikkun’s finances. Arnold had called the Mitzvah School and asked for recommendations for a professional bookkeeper, and they had suggested Jessica. She came for an interview and got the position. She has been at MaAfrika for exactly three years and enjoys it very much. The work includes tours of the organization’s various projects in the townships (the black neighborhoods), all of which are of great interest to her. In addition, she is in her second year of studying for her first degree in accounting from the University of South Africa (UNISA) and it’s going well over there too. During the last year she has been renting a room in Hyde Park, close to the office, and goes every weekend to visit her grandmother and her seventeen-year-old brother, who still needs to be looked after. It is her dream that he will also be accepted into the Mitzvah School.

I find this touching. This is the South Africa that I never knew: a black girl, orphan, alone in the world, a stranger even in Alexandra, working as an outstanding bookkeeper in this prestigious office building in Hyde Park. In one more year she will be a licensed accountant. Multiply this story by 40 million and Apartheid will be totally defeated.

“How many stories like yours are there, really?” I ask the young lady sitting in front of me. She thinks and responds seriously: “In the reality that I know in Alexandra, about 30% of the young people my age are going in the right direction, working or studying. The problem is that the remaining 70% don’t do anything. They don’t have the ability or even the motivation to find work. It is still a big improvement, even compared to how things were when I came to Alexandra. I have a feeling that every year more youngsters from poor neighborhoods begin to understand the world. At the same time, some of them continue to live in a violent society.”

“Is it really dangerous in Alexandra? Do you have friends from among that 70% group?” I ask.

“When you live in a place like Alexandra, you know exactly what you can or cannot do, which street you can or cannot walk on, and with whom you can or cannot speak. On a personal level it isn’t easy because there are many risks and very few opportunities. On the national level there is progress that can be seen. A lot of patience is still needed.”

“All in all, who are your friends?” I ask Jessica.

“My friends are for the most part here in the office, Ricki (my host in Johannesburg) and Chantal, the lady in charge of the projects in our organization. Chantal is white. I talk with her about everything. Ricki is like my mother. I talk about other things with my grandmother. I don’t have white friends my age. Those boundaries still exist. There are young women my age who go out with whites but that is very much the exception. It’s just starting. I haven’t heard of any marriages between young black women from Alexandra and white men. It’s really rare. I believe that within 10 years it will look different.”

I come to the sensitive issue of AIDS and feel that Jessica, sitting across from me, is mature enough to handle the topic, even with a much older white foreigner like myself. “It exists in the immediate environment,” she says. “We are aware of what is going on in our own families. Regarding what happens outside the family we know much less. There are AIDS clinics in Alexandra, but because of prejudice there is only partial treatment.” It’s difficult for me to ask Jessica how one dates a young man when there is such a high percentage of HIV carriers. I also know that a “real man” from Alexandra won’t go for an examination and will insist that Jessica believe him when he says he’s healthy. The use of popular contraceptive methods is also challenged by men in South Africa. However, there is a limit as to how far I can go in a face-to-face conversation with a young 22 year old woman whom I first met less than one hour ago. I nonetheless understand that this talented and lovely woman who, against all odds, overcame the huge obstacles that life brought her way, must still clear this high and complicated hurdle.

It’s a lot easier for me to continue to ask Jessica questions about the future of South Africa instead of delving into sensitive personal issues. About South Africa she is very optimistic: “We are going in the right direction. We needed this World Cup. The money is not wasted. Together we will need to build a new society.” She speaks about friends active in the ANC Youth League. For the first time in her life she is thinking of joining the party — the ANC, of course. Another dream of hers is to leave Alexandra in the foreseeable future. “After I have my degree, I can start thinking about it,” she says.

I would like to ask one more question. She agrees.

“Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, what do you think about him having three, or even four, wives?”

“People have faith in Zuma. If his culture allows polygamy and he maintains a positive family life, I have respect for his decisions.” When she sees that I am slightly surprised, she adds: “I didn’t tell you that I am half Zulu (President Zuma’s tribe) and half Soto. I know and respect the traditions of the Zulu. However, as for me personally, I would never agree to be someone’s second wife if I were ever to be asked.

The workday at MaAfrika Tikkun’s office already ended quite a while ago, and Bertie’s driver is waiting for me downstairs. I wish Jessica much success in the future. For some reason, I have a strong gut feeling that Jessica’s individual success over time will mean the success of South Africa as a whole.

Mfuleni (Excerpts)

Munin Cassel drove me to MaAfrika Tikkun’s office in Northern Cape Town. Munin chairs the organization in the Cape area …En route to the office I can’t stop thinking about Kader Asmal’s decision to choose Ruth First, the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania and a personal hero of his, as the most important Jewish figure in the anti-Apartheid struggle. I remembered what had been written about Ruth First by Milton Shain, who had hosted me two days earlier at the Albo Center, the cultural hall of the Jewish community. Shain referred to Ruth First’s book 117 Days, which described her experiences in administrative detention under the Apartheid regime. The book ends with a prophetic final sentence commenting on her release from imprisonment: “When they finally left me alone at home, I was still convinced that they would come for me again.” “They did indeed come again,” wrote Milton Shain, “this time in the form of a bomb concealed in an envelope stolen five years previously from the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Swaziland.” At the age of 57, Ruth First was murdered.

Erez Shaked took me from MaAfrika Tikkun to the township of Mfuleni. On the way, we passed the Rondebosch neighborhood and the Groote Schuur hospital, where Professor Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant a few decades ago. We could also see the large black township of Khayelitsha and, soon after, Delft as we reached our destination.

MaAfrika Tikkun, the brainchild of Bertie Lubner, has as its patron-in-chief no less than Nelson Mandela. Lubner, with his excellent political instincts and big heart, understood that, given the South African democratic transformation, the Jewish community needed to move in a new direction, both to help the country reconcile and to address the injustices of the past. Erez Shaked is the public relations and fundraiser for MaAfrika Tikkun. In the car he tells me how he arrived in South Africa and what he has been doing here since. Erez’s father, Israel Shaked, was a contractor in Israel until he decided to to Australia during the economic recession of 1966-67. Four years later the family returned to Israel and after a short while continued on to South Africa.

Here in South Africa, the father made his living in the construction business, the family settled down, and Erez entered the business. Due to family circumstances, he moved to the seaside town of Plettenberg Bay on the country’s Southern Coast , west of Port Elizabeth. His wife, who managed a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, died, and Erez assumed responsibility for managing the Jewish community center in town. The Plettenberg Jewish community consisted of only 150 permanent residents; however, during the summer there is an influx of thousands of Jews who arrive to spend time at their summer homes near the ocean.

At the entrance to Mfuleni we encounter a small and picturesque market with a few meat and vegetable stalls. I ask Erez to stop and we get out. Meat is hanging from the ceilings across the entire length of the huts and roasted on nearby grills, and the air is filled with the strong odor of meat and a lot of smoke. I would not buy a kilo of beef here for anything in the world, but we are welcomed with never-ending smiles from the sellers, each of whom are accompanied by at least two children. Erez explains that we are from MaAfrika Tikkun, and all of the sellers are familiar with the organization. They don't attempt to convince us to taste anything, but someone calls us from across the street. “That’s the barber shop,” says Erez. We head in that direction. Music is blasting from a huge boom box. Two young barbers offer us free haircuts but we politely turn down the offer. In the dusty square at the entrance to the town, an amateur singer with a microphone and loud speakers performs his greatest hits, surrounded by a group of twenty young fans.

We enter Mfuleni itself, a very typical township. Many small and crowded stone structures but also many tin shacks. Erez explains that the government subsidizes the stone structures but the residents decide not to destroy the shacks that they lived in previously and use them instead as garages or even rent them out.

“It’s true that there are many towns whose residents still live in shacks, but even with the stone houses popping up, the majority of the shantytown shacks remain standing, so the atmosphere remains fairly depressing,” Erez says. He easily navigates the town’s narrow streets. It’s clear that he’s made this trip many times. The area is very quiet and calm as we arrive at the softball field (a popular game in the black townships) and next to it is a relatively large building, two stories tall. This is the building of MaAfrika Tikkun in Mfuleni. “I feel very safe here,” he tells me.

It’s four o’clock in the afternoon. On the softball field a game among high-school age girls is taking place, and in front of the entrance to the building, a dance instructor enthusiastically dances with a group of over twenty young children with loud and rhythmic music in the background. I look at the children and don’t understand what more these kids have to learn — it seems to me that every child in South Africa is born a dancer. Each one of the kids looks like a virtuoso and together they produce a perfectly synchronized performance. If these small children made their way to Israel, they would fill up the theaters. Erez calls me to enter the building but I refuse — I’m watching the children, enjoying every moment of it.

“This is all because of Lizka,” he tells me. “She’s a wonderful instructor. Many years ago, she studied dance here with us, and for five years already she’s managed the dance groups in Mfuleni.” Lizka Rantsana is the very image of a local leader, and the children love and respect her. She is from nearby Khayelitsha, 34 years old, not married, and at first glance doesn’t look like the typical dancer. But all doubts vanish as soon as she begins dancing. Throughout the lesson the children are drawn like a magnet to her. Each one of them wears his or her day-to-day clothing. Every shirt is in a different color and some of them are barefoot; nobody wears dance shoes. All the kids are black, of course. All of them look happy and very focused; they are fast, flexible and demonstrate together a real show of power.

Even before entering the MaAfrika Tikkun building, standing on the entrance stairs, I already understood everything. The moment a six or seven-year-old child receives two Lizka dance lessons a week and takes part in such a collective musical performance, he or she has something to live for, even if everything else around still looks extremely miserable.

The Jews in the Apartheid Museum

The more I explored the streets of South Africa, the more I began to realize that the leadership of the anti-Apartheid struggle is widely commemorated. The major figures — especially Chief Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo — are featured in the names of parks, universities, airports, museums and conference centers. In addition, the South African national prizes are named after Oliver Tambo and Chief Luthuli: The prize for a foreign citizen who has promoted peace and international cooperation is called the Order of Tambo, and the prize for a South African activist for democracy, human rights and peace is called the Order of Luthuli. The “terrorists,” whose photos were forbidden to be published in the South African press for 27 years, are today’s heroes and role models.

In addition, all the second in command “terrorists” (below the above-mentioned leading quartet) — most of them former prisoners or forced exiles, such as Chris Hani, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Joe Slovo and others — are commemorated in various shapes and forms. I was quite excited to discover this, as during the last two decades I had met face-to-face with these “terrorists” who had since become national icons. For some of them I was the first Israeli they had ever talked to.

As for the Apartheid leaders, I didn’t encounter their names on the main Johannesburg roads: I didn’t see roads named after P. W. Botha, Pik Botha or Johannes (John) Vorster and even could not find an F. W.de Klerk road. The latter certainly deserves to have a road named after him, even while still alive, it’s very possible that this has already been done somewhere without me noticing. Most of the names of important roads in Johannesburg have not been changed, and I didn’t encounter any real demand for this to be done. In Cape Town I could sense some anger and protest by liberal groups over the fact that in the city and its surroundings, racists such as Oswald Pirow (who supported the Nazis in the 1930s) and Hendrik Verwoerd (one of the main founders of Apartheid) are still being commemorated.

The national commemoration in South Africa is clearly biased toward black revolutionaries, as a sort of post-mortem affirmative action. Although sorting the population according to the color of one’s skin is contrary to the basic principles of the new South African democracy, this practice (of color being a factor) has not left the country. The annual statistical review still categorized the population according to skin color and divided the population of South Africa into blacks (38 millions in 2008), whites (4.4 million), colored (4.2 million) and Indian/Asian (1.2 million) — exactly the same color index that set off the Apartheid in the bad old days. It seems that old habits die hard. There was no mention in the report of the 15-20 million illegal immigrants.

After a short trip from Vilakazi Street (Mandela’s Soweto home), we arrive at the Gold Reef Apartheid Museum. “Gold Reef City” is an old mining site that has been turned into an amusement park. Since the company that won the park tender was asked to establish the Apartheid Museum on the site, they could not really refuse such request. Inside the mining site, the South African democratic government decided to display its story — not just the black narrative but the narrative of the struggle, the narrative of the struggle for human rights — and indeed, the museum is a moving reflection of this courageous struggle.

At the entrance to the museum a large sign welcomes us: “The Apartheid lies in its worthy space — a museum.” There are two separate entrance gates: Above one is written “Whites Only” and above the other “Non-Whites Only” — a reminder of the bad days. We decide to enter through the” black entrance” and find ourselves in a long corridor with its walls all covered by photos of the famous “Pass,” the permit that plagued the non-whites during the Apartheid period, permits that white citizens did not need. Under the “Group” heading of the pass itself (black, colored, Asian) the name of one’s tribe was logged: Swazi, Zulu and so on. On the pass was one’s name, picture, date of birth and a number placed on top in large digits. This was the number given to you by the Apartheid regime: if the number was clean of white complaints and the pass duly signed by white officials, the pass carrier could move around. Without this signed permit it was forbidden for a non-white to move outside his or her designated area. The mass burning of passes on the 21st of March, 1960, led to the slaughter of 69 demonstrators in the town of Sharpeville, which in retrospect is considered the beginning of the anti-Apartheid rebellion and possibly one of the most important events in the struggle for human rights during the 20th century.

As soon as we entered the museum itself, I understood that I was in the right place. Here was the real documentation — the most important photos, films and original documents thoroughly exhibiting the racism, cruelty and stupidity of Apartheid, alongside the story of those who had the courage to fight against this inhuman machine, many of whom paid with their lives.

I stopped next to several of the hundreds of Johannesburg police documents. In front of me: two letters to Albertina Sisulu of 7372 Orlando West from the local police commander. I couldn’t help but stop to read these letters. On a visit to Soweto in 1987, then-Deputy Ambassador Shlomo Gur took me to this house to meet with Albertina, wife of Walter Sisulu, who at that time was still sitting in prison with Mandela and other top ANC leaders. This was the first door that was opened to the State of Israel after we had joined the call for sanctions against the Apartheid regime in early 1987. Albertina served then as the co-chair of the UDF, the umbrella organization of all legal associations fighting Apartheid. This visit to Albertina was very important to us, as her readiness to receive us indicated the willingness of some top black leaders to consider opening a new page with Israel. After meeting with Albertina, it was much easier to meet more black leaders and activists.

In the first letter from Dec. 7, 1978 was written: “Regarding your request to participate in your son’s wedding. You are hereby given permission to participate in the wedding provided that you do not deliver a speech during the ceremony.” Signed, L.P. Francis, Orlando Police Chief. The second letter from the Sept. 10, 1964 said: “You are hereby approved to travel to Capetown on the 17th of September 1964 in order to visit your husband at ‘Robben Island’ (the Cape Town prison), provided you do not seek contract with anyone with a police record or legal restrictions resulting from the suppression of communism legislation.” Signed, Acting Commander, Johannesburg Police.

The curators of the museum placed these two letters at the entrance, probably in order to show, in the simplest manner, the extent to which Apartheid affected the personal lives of all who were considered suspicious, to the extent that participation in one’s own son’s wedding was not a given. Perhaps the curators also did this in order to present Albertina Sisulu (and not Winnie Mandela) as the first lady of the rebellion – a woman who was undisputedly loved and admired. It would certainly be difficult to conceal Winnie from the many photos, but in light of her outspoken extremism in the context of black-white relations, her criticism of the ANC government and above all the corruption allegations that she has faced, it would be hard to present her as the role model. All this in spite of her important contribution to the struggle against Apartheid during the time of Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment.

Inside the museum there is an impressive wing dedicated to Mandela himself — a fascinating journey following prisoner number 46664, who changed the fate of the nation. After the Mandela wing, a chronological overview of the struggle. As the museum is so rich and varied, I decided to follow my heart, and soon found myself lingering over the findings related to the Jewish figures in the struggle. The subject interests me as a Jew, of course, but also because I knew them all personally very well. It intrigued me to see how history currently remembers those figures as heroes, only two decades after most of them were seen as terrorists and even traitors by the nation’s white public, including the Jewish community.

The first Jewish figure one encounters at the museum is Joe Slovo, born in Lithuania (1926), who was the military commander of the struggle against Apartheid and a leader of the South African Communist Party. Slovo was appointed housing minister in Mandela’s government after the first democratic elections. Slovo is also well remembered as the person who persuaded Mandela, two years after his release from prison, to abandon the armed resistance against Apartheid, while facing accusations from other ANC leaders who described the move as a sellout.

Another Jew who is impressively profiled in the museum’s documentation is Lazer Sidelsky. I met Lazer Sidelsky early in 1993 at the request of Nelson Mandela himself. “My Boss” is what Mandela always called him. I found the following letter to “Mandela’s Boss” at the museum:

To: Mr. Lazer Sidelsky


From: Walter Sisulu, Deputy President, African National Congress
Date: 3 August 1994

Dear Mr. Sidelsky


104 Devon Street
Riviera, Johannesburg

When I met you at the 50th anniversary party (of the marriage to Albertina) I knew you were familiar but could not quite place you. Afterwards I remembered clearly.

I am sure that you also recollect that day, way back in 1941, when I brought to you a young man, Nelson Mandela, with the request that you take him on in your firm as an articled clerk. You agreed and then he started to work with you.

You can now look back on that day as a truly historical one. For it was from there that Nelson Mandela went on to become an attorney, a leading politician and subsequently the State President of South Africa. It is amazing how history is fashioned.

I take this opportunity to thank you for attending our anniversary celebration and for your contribution to our nation.

Helen Suzman, who was the only South African politician who was allowed to visit Mandela in jail, also has a space dedicated to her at the museum. A large photo from 1966 shows Helen leading her party (the Progressive Party) in a protest march against Apartheid. There is also a photo of Ruth First, wife of Joe Slovo, who was assassinated in Maputo, Mozambique.

Most of the white people who are commemorated in the museum for their participation in the struggle against Apartheid are Jewish. Among the notable exceptions is Helen Joseph, who led 20,000 women in 1956, the majority of whom were black, to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the use of the passes. Another prominent white figure is Alan Paton, the author of the unforgettable novel “Cry, the Beloved Country” that exposed to the world the discrimination against non-whites in South Africa.

The museum does not skip over any of the dramatic events of the struggle, but I searched in particular for the assassination of Chris Hani, the secretary-general of the Communist Party and in fact Mandela’s second-in-command. I wanted to see how Hani’s assassination and funeral are commemorated nearly two decades after they occurred. The assassination is documented in full —from the minute following the fatal shooting until the end of the funeral, which took place at First National Bank (FNB) Stadium (today Soccer City) in Soweto. I watched the film about Hani’s funeral, which is screened repeatedly, without interruption. Winnie Mandela is dressed in uniform. Peter Mokaba, head of the ANC Youth league, is screaming the chant “Kill the Boer, kill the farmer.” The frantic crowd responds by breaking into an enthusiastic “toi-toi” dance in the stadium bleachers. Mandela asks the crowd to calm down. The crowd listens and stops — a historic, unforgettable moment. I attended the funeral as Israel’s ambassador and remembered nearly everything except the shocking chant of Mokaba, which probably hadn’t reached my ears in the uproarious stadium. How far has the 2010 World Cup in the boisterous Soccer City moved away from Mokaba’s barbaric call to kill the Boers in the same stadium 18 years ago.

The reflections overwhelm me: Today’s active South African leadership has no Mandela to calm things down in a moment of crisis. Julius Malema, Mokaba’s successor as president of the ANC Youth League, still occasionally plays the “Kill the Boer” chant, and President Jacob Zuma does not really stop him. And what would have happened if Chris Hani had not been assassinated on the eve of the democratic revolution? He could have been the successor. He preceded Zuma in the hierarchy back then, and had a vision closer to Mandela’s about integrating white people into the new South Africa. But these thoughts are useless, of course. I console myself with the words of the museum’s events manager, who announced that during the World Cup games the number of visitors to the museum had climbed from two thousand (normally) to five thousand a day.








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