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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Speaking about South Africa

Frederick DeKlerk-Man of V ision

In 1986 I was working as an acountant/manager of reinsurance companies. Consequently my books could only close after inspection by an independent auditor. A young curly haired blonde man walked into my office and announced that his name was Brum, and that he was there to audit one of the companies. "Hold on!" said I, "you're South African aren't you?" He confirmed that he was and I saw red. We got off on the wrong foot, and I asked him why the hell he thought I would consent to work with him?

His answer changed everything and gave me an insight into white South Africa that was very enlightening. "Perhaps if I explain that I have escaped from S.A. you might see things in a different light." This is a long story that I must condense by saying that he told me that as a young graduate from formal studies he was conscripted into the Defence Force and was made to bear a whip and oppress the blacks with gusto, whether he was in agreement or not. The problem with totalatarian systems such as that in S.A. at the time, to be white was to be on the side of the National Party, and any show of reticence was viewed as possible treason.

He said that he was aware that many people who lived well on the backs of the blacks would talk among themselves in whispers about how wrong it all was. Even to get out by leaving was seen as letting the side down. In his case he was in Bermuda as part of his international training, but hell would have to freeze over before he went back.

Now fast forward a couple of years and along came F.W. DeKlerk who could see a bloodbath coming that would even embarrass South Africa's enablers, such as The United States of America under President Ronald Reagan, and Britain under Margaret Thatcher, both of whom described Nelson Mandela as that terrorist! There was no doubt that South African forces would win but there would be so many bodies to bury that the world likely would ostracize S.A. even further.

He concluded that the policy of apartheid was wrong and was leading the country in the wrong direction. He came to the obvious conclusion that something had to be done to turn things around. He set about to convince his party that a very radical move must be made, and as we now know, he was successful. How did he do that?

Most people are unaware that the talks between the ANC and the government took place in Bermuda under complete secrecy that even the media observed. Officials flew in and out and no-one uttered a word in public. However, after Mr Mandela's release Mr DeKlerk did come back to visit to thank the Bermuda government and the people of the country for our hospitality and cooperation. It was while he was going walk-about with a friend of mine that I bumped into him on the street.

Normally, that would have been a real surprise that would leave the average person speechless, but I had mused to myself that if I ever got the chance to meet him I would express certain specific thoughts to him. I did just that while thanking him for releasing Mr Mandela, and I also expressed my wonderment at his superb salesmanship. Perhaps, now that he had so much time on his hands he might like to sell life insurance for me?

His words to me will linger in my memory perhaps for all time: "Convincing the people of my party, overall, was much easier than perhaps I could imagine."  Those words underscored what the auditor had told me a few years earlier.This was exactly what they had been hoping for.

As if more proof was needed it was abundantly provided following President Mandela's death when all people came together to give thanks to a man sent from Heaven as a modern day saviour.

President F.W. DeKlerk deserves nothing less!

Copyright (c) 2013   Eugene Carmichael