Conditional Tense, by Antjie Krog

 
The South African past is eating away at the Rainbow Nation. The accumulative effects of 300 years of colonialism, many frontier wars, the Anglo-Boer War, the displaced millions after forced removals, racism, capitalist exploitation and the devastation of AIDS are the fires stoking crime and corruption. And yet . . .
 
Using the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission as starting point, acclaimed South African writer Antjie Krog’s essays explore texts from black women, Afrikaner men, African philosophers, Mandela comic strips, an Archbishop and a Nobel Prize winner to find traces of a new vocabulary. With a mixture of academic and poetic voices, it is an attempt to move beyond the brief banks of the single body towards the vulnerable and a vocabulary of grace and care.
 
Antjie Krog is a poet, writer, journalist, and professor at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. She published 12 volumes of poetry and three non-fiction books: Country of my Skull (1998), on the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission; A Change of Tongue (2004), on the transformation in South Africa after 10 years of democracy; and Begging to be Black (2009), on learning to live within a black majority.
 
Krog has been awarded most of the prestigious awards in South Africa for non-fiction, journalism, translation and poetry. She has also received the Stockholm Award from the Hiroshima Foundation for Peace and Culture as well as the Open Society Prize from the Central European University.