Ad and Wal: Values, Duty, Sacrifice in Apartheid South Africa
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
What would you do if you lived under the ugliest of regimes, a byword for repression and injustice? What would you do if you knew that you could stay safe only if you stayed quiet? Most of us like to think we'd stand up to fight against evil, and yet the vast majority of white South Africans either stood by and said nothing or actively participated in the oppression and carnage during apartheid. Ad & Wal is the story of two modest people who became notorious, two survivors who did what they thought was right, two parents who rebelled against the apartheid regime knowing they were putting themselves and their family in grave danger. Ad & Wal is the story of an ordinary couple who did extraordinary things despite the odds. How did they come to their decision? What exactly did they do? What can we learn from them? Peter Hain, MP and former Cabinet minister, tells the story of his parents - campaigners, fighters, exiles - in this searing and inspiring account.
brought her food and cleaned her room. Husbands were strictly forbidden from being present for the birth. Ad and Wal were both thrilled at their new arrival, discovering the delights – and the challenges, especially being isolated away from relatives – of youthful parenthood. She was then aged twenty-three and he twenty-five. Twenty-first-century parents living in modern societies would be horrified with what Ad had to put up with as normal: linen nappies which had to be hand washed, no wipes,
When the white visitors arrived, the Masai were intensely curious at their rarity, and captivated by the new baby. Suddenly Ad was confused: it seemed to be raining but the sky was bright and clear. Then Smirthwaite explained: the Masai were anointing the tiny baby in their traditional custom of spitting. Ad and Wal were exhilarated at this show of respect and intimacy. It was pleasant enough living at Ngong, though Ad was horrified at the behaviour of a neighbour, a white Kenyan, when a black
flap at the front left up until the last moment. John had begun singing the freedom song ‘We Shall Overcome’ as the hangman turned down the hood flaps, checked all was ready and pulled the lever, plummeting him through the huge trap doors. In the gruesome medieval ritual the rope jerked with such force that it not only broke John’s neck but left a severe rope burn. Christiaan Barnard, South Africa’s pioneer heart surgeon, wrote years later: The man’s spinal cord will rupture at the point where
trials took place. Until, that was, in 1959 when the government decided that blacks should not carry out such ‘responsible tasks’, from then on reserved for whites. David was made redundant and replaced by a white man – whom he had to train for the job. (Ad and Wal persuaded colleagues in the Transvaal provincial executive to find the funds to take him on later as a fulltime Pretoria party organiser so that he had an income.) Incidents and events like this were the staple diet of Ad and Wal’s
argument, not necessarily espousing that position (he certainly never specifically justified violence against people). Like Mandela’s ANC by that time, he was deeply frustrated by the inability of young white radicals to accomplish anything against a police state that remorselessly crushed all peaceful opposition. John with other liberal friends was attracted to the sabotage movement, and deeply disappointed that Wal would have none of it. When she arrived suddenly at the Hain home, Ann