One of the ways i am trying to prepare myself to be a part of a better conversation in South Africa in terms of race, reconciliation and unity is by learning some of the country’s history…
…from different voices than i grew up with.
To that effect, after my weekend at Robben Island, i got hold of a copy of Benjamin Pogrund’s book titled, ‘Robert Sobukwe: How Can Man Die Better’ and just finished reading it this morning.
Before i read the book, i had no real knowledge at all about who Robert Sobukwe was, or his role in our country’s history. I had heard his name before we visited Robben Island mostly in conversations with my friend Nkosi who has written some posts for me. And it was certainly interesting to me that he had a separate prison house set apart from the typical prison cells [including those of Nelson Mandela] on the island which seemed to strongly indicate there was something very different about him. But beyond that i didn’t really have much idea who he was.
i thoroughly enjoyed the book. It’s always hard when reading someone’s version of another person’s story to be able to separate truth from fiction, but i feel like i got a pretty good idea of the life and character of this man. Reading some comments from a variety of other sources seem to back up a lot of the key features of his life.
Next up for me is the book, ‘I write what I like’ which is a collection of Steve Biko essays, so i can learn some more about another South African who was pretty much just a headline to me til now. [bad form, Brett]
But in the meantime, i thought i would share a couple of passages or thoughts that stood out for me from ‘How Can Man Die Better’ in the hope that it will encourage you to get hold of a copy of the book and find out more about this incredible man’s life and refusal to be broken by an evil and unjust system that took so much away from him.
While searching for the cover pic, i learnt that the title is from this quote in a book by Thomas B Macauley: