Wilhelm Verwoerd grateful to South Africans for inviting him on mutual journey

The publishers describe it as an "unflinchingly honest look at loyalty, kinship and the demands of restitution in South Africa."

"Verwoerd: A Journey through Family Betrayals" is a memoir by the grandson of HF Verwoerd, known as the architect of apartheid.

When Wilhelm Verwoerd joined the African National Congress in the 90s, his father accused him of being a traitor.

He speaks to Africa Melane about coming to terms with bearing a name that will always symbolise a dark period in South Africa's history.

I am very aware that the name Verwoerd and the pain that's associated with that, is very difficult to engage with for South Africans of colour.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Author - "Verwoerd: A Journey through Family Betrayals"

Verwoerd says young black South Africans challenged him to do "white work".

To actively engage with my own community, my own family, people from my ethnic background and say, let's go on a deeper journey to understand what apartheid really meant for the majority of people in this country.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Author - Verwoerd: A Journey through Family Betrayals

Sometimes it's better to just speak from the personal, to tell a story rather than to give people a big political argument.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Author - Verwoerd: A Journey through Family Betrayals

He says he's hoping his journey will be relevant to younger South Africans.

I wrote about that time in the 80s when as a young student I went through my political awakening in Holland and in England with the help of black South Africans telling me their stories.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Author - Verwoerd: A Journey through Family Betrayals

Grappling with a way to deal with his grandfather's legacy, he came upon a diary kept by his grandmother which describes her grief when HF Verwoerd was assassinated in 1966.

This helped him to humanise the man usually viewed as a monster.

That helped me to see him as a full human being and that is why that is also included.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Author - Verwoerd: A Journey through Family Betrayals

It humanises him without you attempting to excuse any of his actions and decisions...

Africa Melane, Weekend Breakfast presenter

Verwoerd says he's also trying to bring across to his family and conservative Afrikaners that it is not about being rejected in their humanity by fellow South Africans.

It's about taking responsibility for the inhumanity of apartheid and then going on a journey together to humanise everybody, which is really what Archbishop Tutu and many others have told me.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Author - Verwoerd: A Journey through Family Betrayals

That's ubuntu, that we become human in our relationships with each other.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Author - Verwoerd: A Journey through Family Betrayals

He says he's grateful for what he describes as fellow South Africans inviting him along on this journey with them, despite what the Verwoerd name symbolises and what his grandfather is responsible for.

Verwoerd will be in conversation with Africa at the launch of his memoir, taking place at the Book Lounge in Cape Town on 12 June from 5.30 pm.

Headline pic from Book Lounge Facebook page

Listen to the conversation here:


Recommended

by NEWSROOM AI
Read More
@catcallsofcapetown: 'They tell stories they've never told anyone before'

@catcallsofcapetown: 'They tell stories they've never told anyone before'

Lead SA: Gadeeja Abbas expands on the campaign, which reaches out to anyone who has experienced gender-based violence.

'Aarto bill there to create revenue, not to promote road safety'

'Aarto bill there to create revenue, not to promote road safety'

Rudie Heyneke outlines Outa's objections to the traffic demerit system signed into law this week.

'It's not about gangs, it's about a society that is hurting'

'It's not about gangs, it's about a society that is hurting'

Criminologist and author Don Pinnock says deploying the army on the Cape Flats is too little, too late.

Trusts and capital gains tax

Trusts and capital gains tax

Certified financial planner Paul Roelofse says great care has to be taken with the structuring of a trust.

Analyst asks if president protecting funders or those who voted him into office

Analyst asks if president protecting funders or those who voted him into office

The Xubera Institute's Xolani Dube discusses campaign funding in the South African context of state capture.

SA Fire Schools Project ready to launch

SA Fire Schools Project ready to launch

Lead SA: The SA Fire Watch programme aims to empower young people with fire safety and equipment use skills.

Popular articles
Want to get rich? Got R100? You don’t need millions to start

Want to get rich? Got R100? You don’t need millions to start

Bruce Whitfield interviews Anthea Gardner, author of "Make Your Money Work for You: Think Big, Start Small".

SA’s richest woman opens up about being a refugee and becoming a billionaire

SA’s richest woman opens up about being a refugee and becoming a billionaire

Magda Wierzycka – Sygnia’s renegade CEO – on her attitude toward money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.).

Mystery solved: Why smelly, blue sewage has been leaking into Cape Town forest

Mystery solved: Why smelly, blue sewage has been leaking into Cape Town forest

The reason for the leakage has been revealed, explains Table Mountain Aerial Cableway MD Wahida Parker.

The SA ballet star defying race and gender stereotypes

The SA ballet star defying race and gender stereotypes

Andile Ndlovu is a dancer with the Washington Ballet but is currently back in South Africa in Sleeping Beauty at the Artscape.

W Cape traffic chief: Stay close to other motorists on N2 to stay safe

W Cape traffic chief: Stay close to other motorists on N2 to stay safe

W Cape Traffic Chief Kenny Africa says private security working with the department is helping curb the stonings on the highway.

Were missing SA men victims of Vietnamese organ harvesting syndicate?

Were missing SA men victims of Vietnamese organ harvesting syndicate?

Gift of the Givers fears two South African men who went missing in Vietnam may have fallen prey to an organ harvesting syndicate.

'Not impossible' wife killer Rob Packham would reoffend if released - prosecutor

'Not impossible' wife killer Rob Packham would reoffend if released - prosecutor

Susan Galloway talks to Melanie Rice about the extensive public interest in the Packham and the Van Breda murder trials.

[LISTEN] Ndlozi: Mazzotti donated R200 000 to EFF registration in 2014 election

[LISTEN] Ndlozi: Mazzotti donated R200 000 to EFF registration in 2014 election

EFF's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says the party was not aware of Mazzotti's alleged links to the underworld when it accepted party funding.