NOMINATED FOR  THE 2010 
JEWISH BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN:
THE DOUBLE GIFT AND FREE ELECTIONS


    ...As I write these words, apartheid is no more. The historic event happened in 1993, five years before Emma and Leah were born. The peaceful transition of South Africa from one of the most repressive societies into a democracy, is one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable success stories. That same year Nelson Mandela and F.W. De Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.....

    After the elections on May 10, 1994, Nelson Mandela became the first black President of South Africa, with F.W. De Klerk as his deputy in the Government of National Unity. Mandela’s term as President cemented his reputation as one of the world’s most magnanimous statesmen. He had gone from imprisonment in a tiny jail cell for twenty-seven years, to being the most honored man in the world, received by leaders of countries everywhere.

    I now realize how thoroughly the apartheid regime had done its job: instilling fear in all of us. We whites had believed everything they told us about Mandela. Looking back, I can’t berate myself too much for believing it. How was I to find out the truth back then? We lived in a police state that was ruled with an iron fist. We played by the rules or we went to jail. Yes, I was complicit like everyone else, I had been driven by fear.

   The following year, in 1995, the South African rugby team hosted the rugby tournament against the New Zealand team called the All Blacks, due to the color of their uniforms. It was a watershed moment in the post-apartheid nation-building process. Nelson Mandela made a surprise appearance on the field to wish the South African Springboks good luck. Not only that, but he came out wearing a Springbok Rugby jersey with the number six (the number of the team captain) on the back. The eruption from the crowd was earsplitting! They went wild. Rugby had always been an Afrikaner obsession. Reaching out in this way was a masterful gesture, a sign of political genius on Mandela’s part. At the end of the game, which concluded with an upset win by the South Africans, Mandela presented the trophy to the team captain, Francois Pienaar....


    I am keeping my fingers crossed for the success of South Africa....


   

     
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