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mother identifying her dead son I asked them, Show me the mark on his chin, then I will know it s my son They showed me the mark on his chin, and I said It s not my son I ve never taken an ethics course, but in my ignorant imagination of that field, I see an entire ethics course simply going through every last point this book raises But it would probably have to span several semesters, maybe several years, because there s so much here to think about Has there ever been a harder or m mother identifying her dead son I asked them, Show me the mark on his chin, then I will know it s my son They showed me the mark on his chin, and I said It s not my son I ve never taken an ethics course, but in my ignorant imagination of that field, I see an entire ethics course simply going through every last point this book raises But it would probably have to span several semesters, maybe several years, because there s so much here to think about Has there ever been a harder orhuman task than the one the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed to address The one that Antjie Krog attempts to write about from the inside out Every testimony, every question, every decision to forgive or not to forgive is wrapped in the messy details of painful personal and political histories Of frailty, weakness, judgement Very little here is cut and dry, though there are perpetrators and there are victims.Will a Commission be sensitive to the word truth If its interest in truth is linked only to amnesty and compensation, then it will have chosen not truth, but justice If it sees truth as the widest possible compilation of people s perceptions, stories, myths and experiences, it will have chosen to restore memory and foster a new humanity, and perhaps that is justice in its deepest sense.Questions loom above the individual incidents, and the questions are not simply who was right and who was wrong Questions such as how does a nation heal How do we reconcile when there is no ideal past to reconcile back to How do we get past the bitterness What is the purpose of a reconciliation commission Will it become a witch hunt Is it just a publicity stunt or will the truth come out Is it truth we re after or justice and what s the difference Does the larger goal matter, if it is a noble one, does it justify smaller cruelties How does a journalist write about such events or an artist Should she stick to the facts, or insert her artistic license to bring out the truth behind the facts I hesitate at the word truth , I am not used to using it Even when I type it, it ends up as either turth or trth I have never bedded that word in a poem I prefer the word lie The moment the lie raises its head, I smell blood Because it is there where the truth is closest And that s not even going into racial and women s rights issues which as you can imagine are both front and center as well.Mthintso says a man who didn t break under torture was respected by the police There was a sense of respect, where the torturers would even say He is a man But a woman s refusal to bow down would unleash the wrath of the torturers Because in their own discourse a woman, a black meid, a kaffermeid at that, had no right to have the strength to withstand them.Though the book could easily have turned into a mind numbing litany of wrongs, and it would have been justified in doing so too, it wasn t Antjie Krog goes above and beyond relaying testimonies, beyond the duties of an impartial un biased fair and balanced journalist, into the territory of thinking, feeling, occasionally dead wrong human being She wrestles with each idea, with each personal and national struggle in a chameleon like display of writing that can at times be insightful, inspiring, poetic, analytic, emotional, political, historical, and even humorous but always thinking and feeling deeply What I really appreciated was that she did not disconnect from the pain, but faced it full on with all she had even though it was sometimes not enough I appreciated that she was a white Afrikaner woman, that she was not some outside journalist, but someone highly invested and inside the process trying to work out the pain of her own nation.It has to be this part of the country that turns us inside out, that renders us bare lips It has to be this region of fierce opposites meadows plains, waterfalls dongas, ferns aloes that sparks from a speechless darkness the voices of the past And at long last, flicking cigarette ash from our shoulders, we can weep in the certainty of this April in the assurance of the testimony of fellow South Africans Morally brave, politically brave, aesthetically challenging, disturbingly detailed, passionately felt, exacting in its witness to outrage It was very tough getting through some of the parts that dealt first hand with the horrors of apartheid I read it in class and I noticed that quite a few of the women in the class hardy, intelligent souls, all were really disturbed by the virulent sexism and brute, authorized sadism that was mostly gotten away with under a terrifying point in global hist Morally brave, politically brave, aesthetically challenging, disturbingly detailed, passionately felt, exacting in its witness to outrage It was very tough getting through some of the parts that dealt first hand with the horrors of apartheid I read it in class and I noticed that quite a few of the women in the class hardy, intelligent souls, all were really disturbed by the virulent sexism and brute, authorized sadism that was mostly gotten away with under a terrifying point in global history A couple friends of mine remarked, on separate occasions, that they had berated their boyfriends over domestic trifles after having read some of thevivid parts I don t blame them On a positive note blessings on the earthy, gentle, noble, truly Christlike Desmond Tutu An Afrikaaner talking about how the TRC in South Africa affected her and her white family borders on apologia Not to mention it reeks of the white saviour complex That said, a start is a start, and there are some things that Korg says that actually do make sense However, it is also true that this is, in many ways, the seminal work on the TRC, and to a large extent, on post Apartheid South Africa I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and so the three stars I could spend time arguin An Afrikaaner talking about how the TRC in South Africa affected her and her white family borders on apologia Not to mention it reeks of the white saviour complex That said, a start is a start, and there are some things that Korg says that actually do make sense However, it is also true that this is, in many ways, the seminal work on the TRC, and to a large extent, on post Apartheid South Africa I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and so the three stars I could spend time arguing the banes of a truth commission, but that is a debate for another day This is an utterly mesmerizing book not only because of the events it describes, the history captured, the relationships transcribed, but also because of the prose Krog does a magnificent job of meditating on the form and function of words words exchanged in conversation, in testimony, in poetry, in official reports and all while stretching the utility of each word she chooses for herself, to tell this particular story, of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission trying to heal a nation thro This is an utterly mesmerizing book not only because of the events it describes, the history captured, the relationships transcribed, but also because of the prose Krog does a magnificent job of meditating on the form and function of words words exchanged in conversation, in testimony, in poetry, in official reports and all while stretching the utility of each word she chooses for herself, to tell this particular story, of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission trying to heal a nation through speech.So I sit around Naturally and unnaturally without words Stunned by the knowledge of the price people have paid for their words If I write this, I exploit and betray If I don t, I die We tell stories so not to die of life pages 66 and 64 Krog is white, which is a large part of why this book has sat on my bookshelf for almost a year What could a white South African tell me about the Truth and Reconciliation process, I thought Yet that was fantastically short sighted As Country of my Skull recounts, the divisions in South Africa are deeper andplentiful than between black and white, even as there is an unassailable truth almost all whites benefitted from the losses experienced by almost all blacks, be those losses legal, economic, cultural, or personal including loss of life One of the most fascinating elements of this book is Krog s own honest attempt to figure out where she stands as someone with Afrikaan heritage, who yet despised apartheid, who rejects the racism and patriarchy of the National Party and its adherents, whose family was and to some extent still is deeply privileged and racist, whose friend still believes, even amid the years of the Truth Commission s hearings, that her black maid doesn t miss her children who are forced to live elsewhere Krog doesn t ask thank god to be viewed as any kind of victim her struggles to understand her role in a new South Africa are honest and deeply self aware she readily admits what she doesn t understand, and where she discovers old privilege in herself that still must be rooted out.But Krog does not let her own story overwhelm the substance of what she s trying to report The vast majority of this book deals with testimony from victims of human rights abuses, white and black, and the hearings on amnesty conducted separately from the victims testimony It is flat out humbling to grasp even a little of what people have endured, to consider how good humans get at denying the humanity of another The testimony is awe inspiring, in the older, less jargony, less twenty first century, first world use of the words.At the heart of this book is the concept of reconciliation of how to move on after being victimized of whether it s possible of what circumstances allow forgiveness to flourish of whether forgiveness is ever a necessary prerequisite for healing As such, the book has much to say about the human condition in general, not only in war torn countries fighting to define the meaning of their survival, but in individual hearts, as we consider what we inflict on each other, and what comes after that deep, abiding pain It s hard to capture my thoughts about this book succinctly when my feelings are still so conflicted and I have so many questions As a South African, this is an important read, it forced me to look at parts of our history that were not taught in history classes It is brutal, harrowing but also confusing Not in how it is written although sometimes the philosophical side bars were distracting but rather because it challenges all of our notions of good vs evil, victim vs perpetrator, absol It s hard to capture my thoughts about this book succinctly when my feelings are still so conflicted and I have so many questions As a South African, this is an important read, it forced me to look at parts of our history that were not taught in history classes It is brutal, harrowing but also confusing Not in how it is written although sometimes the philosophical side bars were distracting but rather because it challenges all of our notions of good vs evil, victim vs perpetrator, absolute truth vs personal truth.So while it doesn t have definitive answers and solutions, no simple platitudes to allow one to easily digest and move on, it provides a starting point for engaging with the past, with identity and the still relevant question of reparations Wasn t really crazy about this book I think my rating says it all. .Free Kindle ⚆ Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa ♢ Ever since Nelson Mandela dramatically walked out of prison inafter twenty seven years behind bars, South Africa has been undergoing a radical transformation In one of the most miraculous events of the century, the oppressive system of apartheid was dismantled Repressive laws mandating separation of the races were thrown out The country, which had been carved into a crazy quilt that reserved the most prosperous areas for whites and the most desolate and backward for blacks, was reunited The dreaded and dangerous security force, which for years had systematically tortured, spied upon, and harassed people of color and their white supporters, was dismantled But how could this country one of spectacular beauty and promise come to terms with its ugly past How could its people, whom the oppressive white government had pitted against one another, live side by side as friends and neighbors To begin the healing process, Nelson Mandela created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, headed by the renowned cleric Archbishop Desmond Tutu Established in , the commission faced the awesome task of hearing the testimony of the victims of apartheid as well as the oppressors Amnesty was granted to those who offered a full confession of any crimes associated with apartheid Since the commission began its work, it has been the central player in a drama that has riveted the country In this book, Antjie Krog, a South African journalist and poet who has covered the work of the commission, recounts the drama, the horrors, the wrenching personal stories of the victims and their families Through the testimonies of victims of abuse and violence, from the appearance of Winnie Mandela to former South African president P W Botha s extraordinary courthouse press conference, this award winning poet leads us on an amazing journeyCountry of My Skull captures the complexity of the Truth Commission s work The narrative is often traumatic, vivid, and provocative Krog s powerful prose lures the reader actively and inventively through a mosaic of insights, impressions, and secret themes This compelling tale is Antjie Krog s profound literary account of the mending of a country that was in colossal need of change After reading this book I was shocked, horrified Although I thought I knew about the ugly crimes committed in the 80 s and 90 s by both blacks and whites in South Africa, I was not prepared for the details of the horrendous acts of torture and murder which came to light in the testimonies of the victims I can well understand why Antjie Krog, working as a journalist on a daily basis for over two years, felt physically sick and at times overwrought with anger bordering on hysteria.This book is m After reading this book I was shocked, horrified Although I thought I knew about the ugly crimes committed in the 80 s and 90 s by both blacks and whites in South Africa, I was not prepared for the details of the horrendous acts of torture and murder which came to light in the testimonies of the victims I can well understand why Antjie Krog, working as a journalist on a daily basis for over two years, felt physically sick and at times overwrought with anger bordering on hysteria.This book is muchthan a compilation of the gruesome testimonies before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission These are intertwined with a profound analysis of the reasons why such events occurred and the repercussions In addition, there is a feeling of tension which never falls, as the reader is constantly confronted with new dramas Many profound questions are deliberately raised, such as Who is responsible for the shame and dishonor of apartheid The politicians The police Which perpetrators qualify for amnesty Should the ANC accept responsibility for crimes it committed or can it hide behind the notion of a just war How can a new sense of humanity be fostered Was the TRC ultimately a way of opening Pandora s box Why did so many perpetrators of brutal crimes feel no compassion for their victims Can justice be achieved by granting amnesty and compensating victims or isrequired to achieve a deep sense of justice Why must perpetrators acknowledge the wrong they did How are people changed by apartheid Is there such a thing as collective responsibility for the cultural context that existed under apartheid How do people become dehumanized Why did blacks turn against blacks If pain initially destroys language, can language subsequently help you to capture a memory, to take control of it and liberate you from the tyranny of haunting memories O South AfricaI m so sorry This book deals with the apartheid of South Africa and the Truth and Reconciliation Committee that was tasked with finding out the truth of what happened Heads up that this is a highly graphic novel about torture that at times I had to put down and walk away from for a bit It can be summed up with, The victims ask the hardest of all the questions How is it possible that the person I loved so much lit no spark of humanity in you Senzeni na because of youthi O South AfricaI m so sorry This book deals with the apartheid of South Africa and the Truth and Reconciliation Committee that was tasked with finding out the truth of what happened Heads up that this is a highly graphic novel about torture that at times I had to put down and walk away from for a bit It can be summed up with, The victims ask the hardest of all the questions How is it possible that the person I loved so much lit no spark of humanity in you Senzeni na because of youthis country no longer liesbetween us but withinit breathes becalmedafter being woundedin its wondrous throatin the cradle of my skullit sings, it ignitesmy tongue, my inner ear, the cavity of heartshudders toward the outline new in soft intimate clicks and gutturalsof my soul the retina learns to expanddaily because by a thousand storiesI was scorcheda new skin.I am changed forever I want to say forgive me forgive me forgive meYou whom I have wronged, pleasetake mewith you As much as this was an important book for me and for anyone interested in the process of reconciliation to read, I struggled with the somewhat artistic or poetic presentation which, I hate to say, just seemed kind of disorganized and hard to follow I didn t appreciate the insertion of poetry into prose or, even worse, testimony, without any demarcation, and I was frustrated by long bits of dialogue without anything identifying who was speaking It seems that there was a need for chapter break As much as this was an important book for me and for anyone interested in the process of reconciliation to read, I struggled with the somewhat artistic or poetic presentation which, I hate to say, just seemed kind of disorganized and hard to follow I didn t appreciate the insertion of poetry into prose or, even worse, testimony, without any demarcation, and I was frustrated by long bits of dialogue without anything identifying who was speaking It seems that there was a need for chapter breaks when there was no break, and her jumping around, which I suppose will be interesting because it s poetic and unconventional, really just made it hard to follow Also, I believe that it would have helped that I had adetailed understanding of key players and politics in S Africa because the glossary in the back was not sufficient and I was conscience of my identity as an outsider.But all of this aside, it was an impressive undertaking, to present the experience of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from the author s perspective, that of a woman and an Afrikaner, which certainly gave great insight into racial dynamics, guilt, shame, and honor If anything I take from this book an incredible appreciation for the difficulty of the reconciliation process, the fragile state of politics in post Apartheid South Africa, and the gray moral areas created by the ANC as it made the transition from fighting to governing.On a personal note, this book weighed heavily on my emotions during the time I was reading it, and I have to admit I was glad to have it done It was hard to pick up and read the testimony, first person accounts of rape, torture, and violent death But at the same time, it needs to be remembered, and that s why people should read this book