Wetenschap - 26 januari 1995

Damage to man is damage to the brain, Damage to the brain is damage to man

Damage to man is damage to the brain, Damage to the brain is damage to man

Editor whom I don't know, allow me to speak, see my heart and listen to the voice of nobody. I am from South Africa, a country with splendid beauty, a country not ruined by war - thank god! - but a country locked in its own madness, where people were divided onto two islands with hardly any contact between them. People of the same country being strangers, guided by different moral standards and not knowing the suffering of the other. I am here today because of that madness, created by man like me and you. Madness that can and has been stopped partially by man like me and you.

This madness, yes! we may find in Somalia, in Rwanda, in Mozambique, in Bosnia and maybe elsewhere in the world where no journalist has been able to reach or perhaps know about it. It is not geographical contexts that makes us understand this madness, it is experience that perhaps makes us to see this madness. We only hope that those with ears will listen, those with eyes will see and those with an undamaged brain will try to reason. So that in the closing years of the 20th century we don't repeat the same barbaric inhuman deeds which often are characterized as mistakes.

However, editor, perhaps it is not me who is afraid, but the others who refuse to look back at history. It is not the sound of a gun or a bomb nor the sound of fire crackers that I fear, but human beings, man like me and you, man who I so dearly love and yet without spear or guns can innocently create wounds that are difficult to heal within you. Editor, please help me! not to lose logic like white people in my country.

Perhaps what also explains this fear in me, in Holland, is because your country and my country share a lot in common. Not only in the beauty of the language, that we so deeply love, but rather in the people of both countries. For our ties are deeply immersed in blood, historical ties that date back to the time when Jan van Riebeeck landed in the Cape in 1652. A time of death and destruction in the history of my country that has lasted until this century, to be more specific: April 1994. A time that has separated a child from a mother, a time that has made man out of children, a time that has created enemies between husband and wife, a time that has created madness in man to the extent of controlling the sex life of people, a time where a few men created a death factory out of a country with such untold beauty, a time that has perhaps created this madness I find myself in today.

Forgive I have, editor, but death is something not easy to forget. I shall never allow myself to avenge those responsible for this crime. For humanity will not allow me to do so, perhaps science will do so. Editor, ndivumele ndithethe (laat ek praat! terwyl ek tyd het). Allow me to speak while my brain is still working. Editor, it was man with undamaged brain who tortured me, my brother, my father, and had the courage to burn alive a grandmother of mine and leave children with permanent scars on their faces. These men today claim they had to follow orders, it was them who forced us into submission that Jan van Riebeeck founded us, that my president was a terrorist. Some of us had the courage to reject this human madness, but some of us were not strong enough or perhaps were also responding to orders. To address this complex problem is an ethical task. But perhaps, I hope that we will learn from history and not allow history to repeat itself, for history can often repeat itself in diff
erent ways, in a way that those who have not experienced this form of madness may repeat it again, for human beings are the custodians of history. History is not made by itself, but made by human beings.

Editor, I am confronted by these realities in Wageningen, in Asserpark where I live. I hope I don't see ghosts, but when Dutch people whom I love deeply in my heart, insist that we need to speak Dutch because we are in Holland, I cannot but remind myself of my own holocaust, in my own country, where so many died because they refused any language to be enforced on them. (Especially Afrikaans whose origins are Dutch). This is more so when a bank, a public institution, does this innocently. Editor, I am afraid to say this because I feel like David against Goliath, but I see this in the Leeuwenborch too! I see man and woman with ideas, knowledge submitting to anything, avoiding risks just to go through a tunnel. I may be wrong, so please forgive me and I will submit without fear that I am wrong, for I fear nothing. Please let us stop this fuss of Dutch people as brutally honest, for if they are honest, then every human being should be or is honest, for Dutch people are not supernatural
beings. They are made of flesh, they have eyes, they have ears, they feel pain, therefore are fallible like other human beings and therefore can be dishonest and honest.

Editor, talking to different people I might have confused myself. They might be wondering where I stand in South Africa, they might see me as an arrogant African or a South African full of vengeance. Let me state unequivocally that my country is for love and peace, my country belongs to all those who live in it, black, white, Indian, coloured. This, editor, is a dream that so many died for, an ideal that I have fought for, suffered for, was and still am prepared to die for, an ideal on which my organization - the African National Congress - was founded on as early as 1912. This is not rhetorical heroism but a spirit (as an up and coming scientist please forgive my unscientific approach) that is reflected in the beautiful mountains of Tafelberg and Drakensberg, in the morning dew of Knysna, in the blue see of Cape Town, in the taste of the wine that you buy from Albert Heijn, under the hot sun of the Karoo. This is echoed by the baboons in the Kruger National Park, by man and man and w
oman from different races passionately making love under the Marula tree, with birds joining them singing ntyilo ntyilo". This is reflected in the sound of jazz musicians blowing sweet sounds, in the innocent smiles of children walking with their parents on a early Sunday morning flee market in Capetown, this is reflected in the strong, calm, ever smiling face of my President, this is reflected in the faces of tired mine workers coming from work singing Peace songs, this is reflected in the beautiful flowers.

Uitgawer laat ik ga douchen in de douche want dit is in de douche waar ek vrede en liefde kan vind, die douche praat nie dit is net die geluid van die water wat praat en liefde kan maak.

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