Haresh Shah

An Emotional Journey Of South Africa

gandhisteps

As long as apartheid ruled, Christie Hefner wouldn’t allow us even to think of doing business with South Africa. The management team totally respected her for her stand. But soon as Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, and when the South African President F.W. de Klerk repealed the remaining apartheid laws in 1991, I felt free to follow-up on a couple of leads that had landed on my desktop. I took my first exploratory trip to the country. Even so, something closer to home was nagging at me. Because if you are born of my generation in India, taking a trip to South Africa has to have some emotional undertones, for that’s where Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement first took roots.

The reason I was full of apprehensions on the night I boarded the Johannesburg bound Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt. I wasn’t quite sure of the kind of welcome that awaited me.  As usual, I had read up on the country and was a fan of J.M. Coetzee fiction, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize for literature in 2003.  And had just finished reading one of the most disturbing books about the country,  My Traitor’s Heart by Rian Malana former crime reporter who fled his country after witnessing unimaginable atrocities, returns in search of the truth behind apartheid. He finds the answers – not in the way black and white South Africans live, but in the way they die at one another’s hands.

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