Bandiet out of Jail, by Hugh Lewin
One of the finest examples of prison writing from South Africa, Bandiet out of Jai was originally released during Hugh Lewin’s exile, and published in 1978.
Quite often in the public hearings of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission I remarked that the revelations of a spirit of forgiveness led us into the presence of something holy. I used to say that we were standing on holy ground and should metaphorically remove our shoes. In South Africa we are blessed by some truly remarkable people of all races, and each one is a person of extraordinary nobility of spirit. Many were involved in the struggle against apartheid and they paid a very heavy price for that involvement. One such is Hugh Lewin, whose passionate commitment to justice and freedom led him to oppose injustice and oppression with every fibre of his being. For this he paid a heavy price: seven and a half years of incarceration and twenty-one years in exile. This book describes what happened to him and his associates in apartheid's jails and his encounters with the dreaded Security Branch. Some readers might feel that he is exaggerating when describing the methods of the police, that torture was rare, indulged in only by what some political leaders were to tell the truth were 'bad apples', the exceptions in a Force that otherwise behaved impeccably. What is deeply distressing is how an evil system brutalised and dehumanised those who were its functionaries so that they could treat Bram Fischer as foully as is described when they denied him adequate medical treatment for his prostate cancer, or when they locked him up alone for fourteen hours when his son died. Hugh Lewin went through sheer hell and emerged, not devastated, not broken, and not consumed with bitterness or a lust for revenge. He amazed, he humbled with his gentleness, his generosity of spirit, his willingness to forgive, when he could have been otherwise, and made a telling contribution to the work of the trc as a member of its Human Rights Violations Committee. He is endowed with ubuntu-humanness, the very essence of being human. He reveals another quality of many who suffered: a resilience that prevented him and his fellow 'politicals' from going to pieces when they had the stuffing knocked out of them. Instead, they staged plays and found ways to beat the system and to laugh, even at themselves. Enriched by Hugh's reflections on post-apartheid South Africa, this book reveals again his way with words. He writes like a journalist who is a poet. Or should that be the other way round? And his gentle wry humour is a bonus. This deeply moving account reminds us where we come from and how high a price has been paid for our freedom. Let us cherish it.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
This is an excerpt from the book: Bandiet out of Jail, by Hugh Lewin.
Title: Bandiet out of Jail
Authors: Hugh Lewin
Publisher: Random House Struik
Cape Town, South Africa 2013
ISBN 9781415203835 / ISBN 978-1-4152-0383-5
Softcover, 15 x 22 cm, 272 pages, several phototgraphs
Lewin, Hugh im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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