One of the events that has always fascinated me was the non-violent end to apartheid in South Africa. I remember at the time thinking, as I’m sure many others did, that there would be a blood bath. Later, I asked Ketan Lakhani, a friend of mine from South Africa, why it happened as it did and he patiently explained many of the differences in culture between South Africa and the U.S., including the importance of character. For South Africans, Nelson Mandela continued to be their leader even though he was locked away in prison for 27 years and his words banned, because they knew his character. Because of their trust and confidence in him, he was able to lead them through a hazardous time into a new way of being.
This morning a letter arrived in my email box that gave me another answer to how South Africa dealt with a radical change without the violence the world expected. Neither of these views probably represent the full spectrum of reasons, but they are both intriguing. I hope you enjoy this slice of life letter from Catri van der Merwe, Pretoria.