Moving memoir examines the complexities of having Verwoerd blood in your veins
'Verwoerd: My Journey through Family Betrayals' is an unflinchingly honest look at loyalty, kinship and the demands of restitution in South Africa
“Don’t run away from who you are. Rather use the power of your surname for good,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu told Wilhelm Verwoerd.
When, in the 1990s, Wilhelm Verwoerd spoke out against his grandfather’s racist policies, his father called him a traitor.
After many years of working in Northern Ireland, brokering peace between former enemies, he returns to his homeland to make his own peace.
Back home, he listens to the painful stories of the past as told to him by his black neighbours and friends. He struggles to reconcile the hated symbol of apartheid with the loving husband he encounters in Betsie Verwoerd’s intimate diaries.
This moving memoir examines the complexities of having Verwoerd blood in your veins in the full knowledge that HF Verwoerd had blood on his hands.
It is an unflinchingly honest look at loyalty, kinship and the demands of restitution in South Africa.
“Filled with fascinating insights into the legacy of a man who represented good for his people, the Afrikaners, while entrenching himself as one of the cornerstones of evil for my people, the Africans.”
– Lukhanyo Calata
“A virtuosic odyssey into one man’s purgatory for redemption from the political sins of his grandfather.”
– Jeremy Vearey
“It would be easy to dismiss a book written by the grandson of Dr Hendrik Verwoerd as one of those revisionist texts that seek to minimise the impact of apartheid and the transgenerational consequences of the immeasurable suffering that it created. Wilhelm Verwoerd’s book explodes this perspective and challenges us to witness what it means to hold at once the love that one has for one’s family and a deep sense of responsibility to engage in action for social justice. His story offers us a powerful example of the internal journey involved in facing history and staying with the complexity thrown up by the matrix of its sometimes-bewildering interacting factors.”
– Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wilhelm Verwoerd was born in 1964, in the heyday of apartheid, which was infamously formalised by his grandfather, Hendrik Verwoerd. Deeply disillusioned with the system he was raised in, Wilhelm joined the ANC in the early 1990s. He worked for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and for reconciliation in North Ireland and South Africa.
- Article provided by NB Publishers