Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert IN MEMORIAM
31 March 2010
For the things we loved about Van were in fact that very qualities that came from his Afrikaner background: the lack of royal pretension, the respectfulness, the im- patient earthiness of the frontiersman, the intellect put to the common good, the loyalty to family and friends. [...] He was wearing a white and brown cotton shirt of the pan-African tradition, the neat fabric of the hemline of the sleeves just grazing his rough elbows. [...] It was my turn to abandon the comfort of the bosom of the volk: in 1984, I walked over to the ‘other side’ and became the political correspondent of the Sunday Times and Business Day – which meant my path again crossed Van’s in Parliament. [...] Van explained to me that he believed such a symbolic act, establishment Afrikan- ers travelling to West Africa and meeting the leadership of the banned liberation movement, would help break the impasse in the deadly politics of repression and resistance of the late 1980s. [...] This was a time when some of us were beginning to get out of the trenches of political struggle and entertaining the idea of working with think-tanks such as Idasa, the Institute for Multiparty Democracy, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Develop- ment Bank of Southern Africa.