Apartheid in my Rucksack
When Ted left Pretoria in 1986 to travel overland through Africa to England and North America, he wanted to escape South Africa. He wanted a period of respite from the political turmoil, the riots, the apartheid that he had been writing about daily. He wanted to lose himself in travel, and perhaps even look for a new home abroad. But forgetting South Africa wasn’t that easy. Despite his rigorous efforts to immerse himself in my travels, his errant thoughts kept turning homeward, and South Africa and her spurious policies dogged his every step.
The world was captivated and consumed by South Africa and he repeatedly found himself in situations that recalled home. On Lake Malawi, he met with Americans who had been arrested on suspicion of being South African spies. In Tanzania he was declared a Prohibited Immigrant because of his Afrikaans surname. He arrived in America the week that Congress passed its momentous anti-apartheid legislation, while Paul Simon’s album Graceland was filling the streets with the sound of township mbaqanga. And all along the way he met with exiles: bogus ones in Nairobi and real ones in Scotland, New York and Vancouver, all trying in vain to forget home.
The farther from home he traveled, the closer he got to it. His journey of escape turned into one of confrontation. During eight months on the road, the specter of apartheid influenced how he saw places abroad and how he saw South Africa, and he found myself curiously and inextricably caught between those two worlds.