A collection of writing from Africa

In South Africa, They Still Burn `Witches’

June 19, 1994
NOBODY, South Africa – Three months ago, 12-year-old Modike Mamoropene was forced to douse her mother with gasoline and set her ablaze.

Modike saw a mob burn the rest of her family to death and flames devour her home before she, too, perished with the rest of her kin and their property.

The crime: Modike’s mother was accused of being a witch. Read more >>

Equal Rights an Empty Promise for South African Women, Black or White

October 30, 1994
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The fading scars on Anu Pillay’s body are signs of the 11 years her husband habitually beat and raped her. Inside, the hidden trauma heals more slowly.

She remembers police officers who were sent to investigate the abuse sitting down to drink with her husband. She remembers hospital staffers releasing her into his custody even though his beatings–once splitting the back of her head open with an iron pipe–put her there in the first place.

“There is a state of confusion in South African culture regarding abusive behavior,” said Pillay, 35, who is now divorced and counsels abused women. “No one understands that it is wrong because it is so pervasive.” Read more >>

Mandela accepts apology from wife

February 15, 1995
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – President Nelson Mandela accepted an apology Tuesday from his estranged wife for calling his government weak and unresponsive–but it took two tries for Winnie Mandela to get the tone right.

In response, the president sternly warned that top officials had a responsibility not to show disrespect for his government. Read more >>

Angry De Klerk Meets With Mandela In Bid To Mend Political Rift

January 20, 1995
PRETORIA, South Africa – Deputy President F.W. de Klerk accused Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress of bullying his National Party and met with the president today to discuss the future of their unity government.

The stock market fell yesterday on word that de Klerk had threatened to resign. De Klerk told reporters during a break in his meeting with Mandela that the two men had “made progress.”

De Klerk, who was president of the former white-minority government, complained this week that the ANC was ignoring his party in Cabinet decisions and hinted his party might pull out of the government. Read more >>

Children in South Africa Celebrate End of Strife

June 2, 1994
Two months ago, Main Street buzzed with army tanks, stray bullets and terror. But on Wednesday, hundreds of the township’s children marched to celebrate peace in South Africa.

“Today, I’m not scared to march,” said 11-year-old Ann Makwela. “Two months ago, I was afraid. But today, even though people are still being killed, it’s not so bad.”Teacher Jane Nkosi said that before the nation’s first all-race elections in April, they never thought they would have cause to celebrate peace along with U.N. International Children’s Day on Wednesday.

“We could never imagine participating in this type of celebration,” said Nkosi. “We were always hiding under the beds because of shooting, and the children couldn’t absorb anything in school.” Read more >>

South African Leaders at Odds Over Environmental Policies

June 11, 1995
GERMISTON, South Africa — Tipping over a rusted barrel of liquid resembling paint, Ernest Ndwandwe says his squatter home in an abandoned waste disposal factory has attracted “worried-looking white men.”

Red Cross doctors and environmentalists flock to the factory, where 200 homeless people have moved in and built shacks. Environmentalists warn of more such scenes if South Africa does not act strongly to regulate the handling of toxic materials.

President Nelson Mandela rates the environment as a top priority. But his environmental chief, Dawie de Villiers, is pushing practices repugnant to the West and Mandela’s African National Congress. Read more >>