JACKET NOTES | Candice Mama on 'Forgiveness Redefined'

23 February 2020 - 00:00 By candice mama

Published in the Sunday Times (23/02/2020)

I always reminded myself of what my objective was in writing this book - and that was for someone to see that there is a different way to live if they choose. I didn't want to unpack my emotions in a three-step process or in psychological analysis but rather by sharing my own vulnerability through my writing.

And my story is: In September 2014 the National Prosecuting Authority reached out to my family to enquire about whether or not we would like to meet Eugene de Kock - we agreed. I then chose to forgive the notorious apartheid assassin, the man responsible for my father's brutal murder.

On the very first day of my writing journey, I prepped my writing station, brought in my snacks and water and downloaded a motivational quote by Vincent van Gogh: "If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced." Two hours later I had finished my snacks and water and had written no more than 10 words.

Thankfully, the following day I had gone up to 6,000 words - or I would still be writing my book today.

There are two lessons I learnt in writing: never edit as you write; and the only way through it is to do it.

I have always believed music to be an audio teleportation to an emotion or memory. Never was this more true for me than during the moments I needed to delve into a memory and the correlating feeling of sadness. I would sit in my room playing heartbreaking songs and feel myself connect to the version of myself I was writing about. It turned out to be an incredibly cathartic exercise.

One of my favourite chapters, "Everything Is Love", came to me while taking a walk with my younger brother. Although I wasn't sure musings about my struggles with love in high school would have a place in a memoir focused on overcoming trauma, I decided to write it anyway. I'm so happy I did. I ended my book with a few lines from The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski because if someone never listens to another word I say, I hope they will listen to him:

"You can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvellous
the gods wait to delight
in you."

Forgiveness Redefined - A Young Woman's Journey Towards Forgiving the Apartheid Assassin Who Brutally Murdered Her Father is published by Tracey McDonald Publishers, R280