Student Comrade Prisoner Spy: A memoir by Bridget Hilton-Barber

31867695.jpg– You cannot forgive without knowing who to forgive, [Chris Mbekela] went on to say. And he was right and noble and dignified, I thought – but of course none of this I knew at the time. I was simply a horrified twenty-one-year-old white girl from the suburbs staring at the back seat of a car which was covered with burnt bits of human flesh. –

– But I do not seem to be able to shake off the black dogs. They shadow me, they whimper and bark. No one but I can see them, but they are there, nosing the back of my legs, gazing at me with fiery eyes in the darkness of night. Just because the monkey’s off your back, they say, doesn’t mean the circus has left town; or, in my case, just because the circus has left town, doesn’t mean you’ve got the monkey off your back. –

– From the well of her grieving soul, through the lips of Mrs Nomonde Calata, window of one of the Cradock Four, comes a cry, a wail, which fact starts the process. –

– The proceedings, for me, are a double-edged sword. On the one hand I feel vindicated, because I too opposed apartheid and I too was brutalised, though in a relatively minor way. People didn’t believe us then, when we told them what was going on. And now, you see, we were right. I feel that at some level, people’s pain is at last being dignified. But the proceedings are also a terrible reminder of those days, some nine years ago, when the country was under a bad magic spell, and we were caught up in the curse. –

– We were only doing our jobs. –

– To behold it was madness, but to experience it day after day was way beyond lunacy. –

– And the choice you make between hating and forgiving, can become the story of your life. –

Read: How the book was almost lost


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