Magazine article New Internationalist

Return to Paradise

Magazine article New Internationalist

Return to Paradise

Article excerpt

IN 1975 Breyten Breytenbach was sentenced to seven years in solitary confinement by the South African Government for his activities on behalf of the African National Congress (ANC). Following his imprisonment Breytenbach lived in Paris as an exiled poet and painter.

In Return to Paradise, the journal of his homecoming, Breytenbach contemplates the changing political backdrop from a voyeur's perspective. 'I used to be part of the South African people,' he says, but no longer even though 'I still know them from within'.

In recalling numerous episodes of the grisly past, Breytenbach reveals his scepticism towards the tendency that 'everybody who wants to be somebody in the country now lays claim to having been in the resistance movement'. He insists that 'there are perceptions which we refuse to face'. …

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