It was Alan Paton, a native of Natal who penned South Africa's most famous and impassioned novel of searing beauty, about a Zulu pastor, Stephen Kumalo and his son Absalom. It was about a black mans' country under a white mans' rule. He started writing it in 1948 in Norway, then moved to Sweden, England and finally San Francisco in USA where his manuscript was read, published and immediately became a world wide best seller.
Fourty years ago this week, December 3rd, 1967 Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the world's first heart transplant at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town, on 55 year old grocer Louis Washkansky. Although the patient died 18 days later of complications, many thousands have been given a new life by this operation, and Barnard, an opponent of Apartheid, performed many hundreds of operations at no charge. This week many of the survivors of future such operations got together to celebrate their good fortune, although the doctor died while on holiday in Cyprus in 2001. South Africa has been a pioneer in many good and useful things, and next week the ANC (African National Congress) will meet in Polokwane to elect their next leader. Challenging the incumbant and S A President Thabo Mbeki is his Vice-President Jacob Zuma from Kwa Zulu Natal. Many think that Zuma, who has a big following and has been endorsed by five of the nine provincial ANC committees, would become the next Premier in elections for that post in late 2008 and lead South Africa down the road to destruction like Zimbabwe to the North.
At present most of the leadership is Xhosa, from their stronghold in Eastern Cape, where Mandela and Mbeki were born, but Zulus make up over 70% of the population and want their place at the top. South Africa has been making incredible progress on most fronts in the last decade, and the last thing it needs is an inter tribal struggle to slow it down.
Just before Nelson Mandela was sworn into office in 1994 a temporary flag was introduced a week before the ceremony. It is unique in the world with 6 different colours. Green, Yellow and Black are the ANC party colours, while Red, White and Blue are from the United Kingdom and Netherlands flags. It gave flag makers little time to produce these flags, about a week, and was an instant hit with the population and has been made the permanent state flag.
In 1897 Enoch Sontonga wrote Nkosi Sikelel i Africa,(God Bless Africa) which was later adopted by the ANC and anti apartheid supporters. From 1936-57 Die Stem Van Suid-Afrika (The Call of South Africa) shared equal billing with God Save the Queen as the national anthem, but later Die Stem was the only one played until 1997 when Nkosi Sikelel and Die Stem were merged. Now South Africans sing their anthem which starts in Zulu, the next verse in Sesotho, the third in Afrikaans and the last in English. Very unique.
The new national Coat of Arms is only a couple of years old and is quite 'busy'. It has a rising sun, a secretary bird, a spear, a shield, a protea flower, elephant tusks, ears of wheat, human figures and the motto: IKE E:XARRA:KE which is the ancient Khoekhoewn language of the Xam, or San people. It translates as DIVERSE PEOPLE UNITE.