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Book Title: A Human Being Died That Night|
The author of the book: Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
ISBN 13: 9781846270536
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 390 KB
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Loaded: 1814 times
Reader ratings: 3.8
Edition: Portobello Books
Date of issue: August 1st 2006
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I have to admit that this book dealt with a period of history which I am not well versed in. Apartheid ended when I was 13 so many of the key events in the history of this brutal period took place before I was old enough to grasp their significance. Of course, this is not an excuse for not learning more about the whole period as an adult but because of my work and research (and as someone who lives in Liverpool), my reading has always tended towards Colonial History and European interaction with Africa between 1700 - 1900 or thereabouts. When this was advertised as a bookring on bookcrossing.com I saw an opportunity to learn a bit more.
The book is well written, well researched and not overly emotive, nor does it dwell on the brutality of the activities orchestrated and led by Eugene De Kock, the man who bears the moniker "Prime Evil". If you thought this book would demonize de Kock and provide gruesome descriptions and insights into his reign of terror then you will be disappointed. Yes, he instigated the torture and death of many individuals, but this book moves beyond that (without ignoring the fact) to present the man after he has been stripped of his power and influence and given and opportunity to think about the context of his actions.
Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela examines the opportunities that the end of apartheid have given to allow a process of healing and recovery with the emphasis placed on discussion rather than revenge and retribution. Human history generally espoused that an eye for eye is the best, sweetest and most satisfactory method of revenge. The TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Committee) are trying to move beyond this by highlighting how forgiveness gives the wronged party the power and the upper hand as it is they who are in control. They become the signifier, the people who determine the status of both sides.
Gobodo-Madikizela interweaves her own experiences and memories of Apartheid and her one-to-one interviews of de Kock. The process is not easy or pain free for either party (but should we really care how painful it is for de Kock?) and it is clear that as well as learning about de Kock, Gobodo-Madikizela also learns new and unexpected things about her own perspectives, emotions and attitudes. This book is a unique and well written insight (although it is not the first book written about de Kock) but I have realised that I now need to learn a great deal more about this period of history and will be seeking out books accordingly.
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