In Inside Apartheid
, South African-born Janet Levine recounts the horrors and struggles she faced against the minority white government’s brutal system of repression from a rare perspective—that of a white woman who worked within the system even as she fought to transform it.
With candor and courage, Levine skillfully interweaves her personal story of a privileged white citizen’s growing awareness of the evils of apartheid with a moving account of the increasing violence in and radical polarization of South Africa. Inside Apartheid
brings to life both the unsurpassed physical beauty and the institutionalized brutality of the country Levine loves so deeply. We accompany her on a daring trip to the devastated black township of Soweto immediately following the unrest in 1976. There she visits the home of a “colored” family with no way out of apartheid induced poverty. On a journey through the “black” homelands where Levine discovers firsthand the horrifying evidence of the long-term genocide of three million people.
As a student activist, as a journalist, and as an elected member of the Johannesburg City Council, Levine openly attacked the government’s policies in hundreds of speeches and articles, led election campaigns for one of her mentors, member of Parliament Helen Suzman, and was associated with Steve Biko and other less internationally famous but equally important South African figures. Levine was a founding member of the first black taxi co-operative in South Africa, and instrumental in having hundreds of illegally fired black workers reinstated with back pay after the Johannesburg strikes of 1980.
We feel Levine’s pain when she finally asks soul-searching questions about the effectiveness of being a white activist. Inside Apartheid
, with such honest witness-bearing, may be her most important act of all.