Kapstädter Schriftsteller zu den Chancen und Risiken des Projektes „Regenbogennation“
(Autoren/ Editors: Anne Schroeter, Annalisa Wellhäuser, Ghassan Abid)
Das südlichste Land des afrikanischen Kontinents konnte sich nach dem Ende der Apartheid in vielerlei Hinsicht kräftig entwickeln, unter anderem auf der literarischen Ebene. Mit Andrew Brown – einem Juristen, Polizisten und Schriftsteller aus Kapstadt – verfügt Südafrika eine weitere Persönlichkeit, die sich mit sozialen Themen im Lande beschäftigt. Während der Apartheid wurde er von Polizisten aufgrund einer Freundschaft zu einem Schwarzen festgenommen. Nun thematisiert er als Buchautor die gegenwärtige und zugleich schwierige Lage von Flüchtlingen in Südafrika. Nigerianer sind oft der Willkür südafrikanischer Behörden ausgeliefert und müssen ferner die fremdenfeindliche Stimmung in den Townhships dulden. In seinem Buch „Würde“ geht er auf genau diese soziale Schieflage in Südafrika ein und verbindet die unterschiedlichsten Protagonisten miteinander: Richard Calloway ist ein weißer und erfolgreicher Anwalt der Kapständer Mittelschicht, der trotz Ruhm und sozialem Aufstieg ein tristes Leben führt. Doch eines Tages trifft er auf Abayomi, eine Immigrantin aus Nigeria. Schnell erkennt Calloway, dass er ihrem Wesen sehr aufgeschlossen ist und sich zunehmend in ihrer Welt verfestigt – mit ungewissem Ausgang. Das Buch ist deshalb so bemerkenswert, weil Andrew Brown hierfür umgangreiche und hintergründige Gespräche mit nigerianischen Einwanderern in Südafrika unternommen hat.
Zum Sinn und Zweck der WM 2010 für die Volkswirtschaft des Gastgebers äußerte sich Brown dahingehend, dass er grundsätzlich von langfristig positiven Effekten ausgeht, die vor allem dem Tourismus zugute kommen werden. Der Kriminalität im Lande können man jedoch nur mit einer Ausweitung des gesellschaftlichen Bildungsstandes begegnen, so der Kapstädter Schriftsteller gegenüber dem Südafrika-Portal. Der aktuellen Debatte um die Regulierung der Medien durch die südafrikanische Regierungspartei ANC schaut Brown, auch ein ANC-Mitglied, jedoch mit großer Sorge entgegen, wofür man notfalls erneut auf die Straße ziehen müsste. Zum Abschluss äußerte er seinen Wunsch, noch ein weiteres Buch veröffentlichen zu wollen und öfters, vor allem nach Europa und Deutschland, zu reisen. Nachstehend ist das Originalinterview in Englisch als Text und als Video abgebildet.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Mr. Brown, you was born and raised in Cape Town / South Africa . You mobilized against the Apartheid and had been captured too. Which moment or occurrence has activate your mind for justice?
Answer: Probably when I was 17 years old and I was arrested simply because I was friendly with a black boy of my age. I was taking him home after playing soccer and we were both arrested and held few a few days. We were both interrogated because the police could not understand that we were simply friends. That showed me how unjust the system was and that it needed to be changed.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: You are a really big performer in terms of profession. I noted you are actually and at the same time a police man (in reserve), an advocate and a writer. Which personal objectives are you following in each job and which one is your most challenging one?
Answer: They are all quite challenging, but in different ways. I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of working as a policeman, because it feels like I am making a contribution to the society that I am living in. Writing is something I do for my own enjoyment and I don’t feel pressure to write ‘for’ anyone. If people like my writing, then that is great, but I don’t feel that I have to produce something for publishers or readers to read.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: During the World Cup 2010, you have untertaken as police seargent patrols in townships. Which benefits has the South African nation and the population, especially the township citizens, taken from this event? What is your mind in this matter?
Answer: I hope that there will be long-term benefits. The focus of the world on us as a country, and the fact that it was a success, was really a big thing for us. But that focus does not bring any benefit on its own. Hopefully, it will result in more tourism, perhaps better trade and confidence in South Africa . The World Cup did a lot to unite the nation and to build our sense of pride in our country, which is very important. The transport system was improved a lot before the World Cup, and I think that is one thing that we will definitely benefit from in the future.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: In your new novel „WÜRDE“ (in English it means „dignity“) – the original title called „REFUGE“- you are writing about the two faces of South Africa; the rich and the poor one. On the one hand, we have the protagonist „Richard Calloway“ – a white, successful and in security living advocate. On the other hand, you have installed the character „Abayomi“, a native of Nigeria – an immigrant. Could you please give us a short summary of this novel and which social targets would you like to achieve?
Answer: The book is partly about the white middle-class in South Africa , which often shuts itself off from the real issues going on around it. People protect themselves against the guilt and anguish that comes from seeing the poverty around you, by pretending that it doesn’t exist. The book is partly about a successful middle-class man who starts to reach out to touch the ordinary people around him; he comes to realise just how small and isolated his life has been. The other part of the book is about the immigrants, the other ‘outsiders’ of our society, who are there not by choice but because they are fleeing injustice or violence. It is about how we treat them and about how we stop seeing them as equal human beings.
Answer: I interviewed a lot of immigrants to hear their stories. Once they realised that I was not a threat, they were very happy to talk to me and to share their stories with me. I met incredible people who told me stories of great suffering, of courage and of humiliation at the hands of South African officials. I have incorporated some of their stories into the book, to try and make it as realistic as possible. I chose Nigerians in the book because they are the most stereotyped immigrants in South Africa: they are seen as all being drug dealers or prostitutes, and for this reason I wanted to show them as being human beings with their own special culture, language and lifestyle.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: In these weeks, the African National Congress (ANC) follows up a regulation of commentatorship. South African and international media are still protesting against these plans to establish a „secrecy bill“ and „media tribunal“, which allows the government to increase their control over media. How would you like to evaluate these developments?
Answer: Because of our history, it is very concerning when government starts talking about controlling media reports and press coverage. We are very sensitive to this kind of censorship, given what we experienced under apartheid. People are opposing the bill and there is a petition signed by many writers and other people who are protesting against the bill. Government has tried to explain the need for the bill, but so far we are not accepting that it is necessary.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: As „SÜDAFRIKA – Land der Kontraste“, the German gateway to South Africa, we have interviewed the writer Roger Smith, who is denouncing in his novels the crime situation in South Africa, like you. What do you think should the government do to face this big challenge? Or rewording, how could South Africa solve this problem?
Answer: Crime is a problem in South Africa , but it should not be over-emphasised. Our crime is a result of poverty, our history and poor education. Of all of these, it is most important to address education, because literacy and numeracy continue to be problems, and we cannot advance our society unless we take care of these problems first. Crime is not getting better, but it is not getting worse either. It will not improve simply by policing, or introducing new laws. You need to change the way that people think, about themselves and about others. To do this, we need to concentrate on education.
2010sdafrika-editorial staff: Last but not least, which personal dreams would you like to realize?
Answer: There are many dreams I have – one would be to publish another book. Another would be to travel more – I have travelled a lot in Africa, but not much in Europe and there are many countries and places that I would like to see. I have so enjoyed being in Germany, and I would very much like to return to spend more time here as well.