Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

THE WORLD FROM... Johannesburg for a Moment, amid UN Debates and Olympic Games, South African Tears Flow from Joy Instead of Sorrow

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

THE WORLD FROM... Johannesburg for a Moment, amid UN Debates and Olympic Games, South African Tears Flow from Joy Instead of Sorrow

Article excerpt

SOUTH Africans, whose past response to the international community has been characterized by hostility, ignorance, or extreme dependence, are beginning to warm to becoming a part of the world again.

Two major events in the past few weeks have changed the way South Africans see the world.

The first was United Nations action to resolve the political stalemate, including Security Council debate on South Africa July 15, the visit to the country of UN special envoy Cyrus Vance, and the presence of the first UN monitors at a political protest during the two-day general strike Aug. 3-4. The second was South Africa's emotional return to the Olympic fold at Barcelona.

"Suddenly, you can see that South Africans are beginning to feel part of the world - rather than just spectators - and want to embrace its values as their own," says a Western diplomat.

In the past, the UN - and the huge anti-apartheid industry that grew around it - was regarded by many white South Africans as the epitome of a hostile world, and, to most black South Africans, as their potential savior.

But all this has changed in a matter of six weeks - since the breakdown of negotiations at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) in mid-May and the further political polarization which followed the Boipatong massacre of June 17.

Now, President Frederik de Klerk and African National Congress President Nelson Mandela are involved in a propaganda campaign to claim credit for Security Council Resolution 765 and to put their own gloss on what it actually means.

Letter writers and callers to radio talk shows have discovered a new enthusiasm for international observers, and a popular radio station, Radio 702, ran a call-in service during the work strike for listeners to pass on information to the 10 UN observers.

The extended Security Council debate was carried live on South African television and appeared to have a cathartic effect on most South Africans. …

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