National Geographic : 1993 Feb
seats and packing the stadium grounds. Songs of South Africa's black struggle rang out. Toyi toyiing, the high-stepping dance patterned on guerrilla marches, kept a steady beat. Speech after speech addressed the deep bewilderment resonating within the funeral gathering, as in much of black South Africa: We have fought apartheid; how can we be fighting one another? The elegiac strains of "Senzeni na?" an old hymn now a freedom song, began to fill the sta dium. "What have we done?" its repeated refrain asks. It seemed a deep reaching into the soul, each voice anchoring to the belief that they would find strength in unity. Now the hearses crept toward the coffins, which were flanked by an honor guard standing silent with clenched fists raised in the air. A helicopter hovered overhead. Police in armored vehicles watched nearby. As we left the stadium for the ten-mile walk to the ceme tery, South African photographer Peter Magu bane remarked, "If it were before, we'd now be smelling tear gas." Since 1990, with the release of ANC leader Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners and the unbanning of black political organiza tions, a "new South Africa" has become the watchword. Signs segregating black and white facilities are gone. The Population Registration Act, which legally pigeonholed people as white, black, Asian, or Coloured, is off the books. At this funeral ANC deputy president Walter Sisulu proclaimed, "We have reached the last mile of our struggle." But even as a post-apartheid society seems in sight, "the last mile" is proving to be a twisting, difficult course. In three visits to South Africa over two years, I would see hopes rise and fall again and again. South African blacks- 75 percent of the pop ulation-still cannot vote. To draw up a new nonracial constitution that would give them that right, 19 organizations-a dozen of them black-sent some 200 delegates to the Conven tion for a Democratic South Africa in December 1991. Tense but hopeful from the beginning, the talks collapsed in June 1992, with every one blaming everyone else for the bloody esca lation of violence in the townships. The ANC accused President Frederik W. de Klerk's white National Party of allowing it. By September terrible loss of life brought the parties together again. Everyone agreed that the talks had to resume and the fighting had to stop. But no one agreed on what was causing the violence. Tribalism is the easy answer. "That's a lie!" says Archbishop Desmond Tutu. "In Soweto we have lived harmoniously. I am Xhosa. I have a Zulu family on one side. A Swazi family there. A Mopedi over there. A Motswana there. If we quarrel, it is because you have a new suit and I am jealous. We have never quarreled in Soweto because of tribalism." To the Reverend Allan Boesak, an ANC leader from Cape Town, "township violence is a legacy of apartheid-a system that is violent in itself. But there was a dangerous glorification of the armed struggle; we romanticized it. Our kids grew up with the idea that you are only a hero in the struggle if you are willing to kill someone. It's destroying our soul."