A Letter From Soweto

A Letter From Soweto

There is a dog in Snake Park, a settlement on the outskirts of Soweto, called De Klerk. He is a white dog. Well, he would be white if he could shed the fine brown dust of this place. In the evenings when the gates are being locked you can hear a Zulu voice hurling the name at the darkening shacks: “De Klerk, De Klerk, Woza, De Klerk!” Come, De Klerk. During the day, De Klerk roams the streets of Snake Park with the pack. But at night’s fall, the canine state president belongs in the yard. His mission is clear: guard the house. The house, a tin and asbestos shack, is a butcher’s shop.

De Klerk the dog and the butcher shop in Snake Park belong to Mr. Dladla. When discussing politics, Dladla is fond of saying: “Government is a crook.” Although Dladla is a staunch supporter of the African National Congress (ANC), and fully expects its victory in the elections next April, whatever happens in the future, his dog De Klerk, along with half a dozen other canine security agents, will remain at his post. For while many people have great expectations that one day “The People Shall Govern,” it is hard to see how, when that day dawns, the mess created under the name “apartheid” can easily be cleaned up. It is harder still to see how justice might be secured for the poor and oppressed in South Africa given the massive incompetence and corruption of public institutions. And as St. Augustine once noted, “Without justice what is government but a great robbery?”

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