[LISTEN] 'There is a deep wounding associated with the Verwoerd name'

Apartheid regime leader Hendrik Verwoerd's grandson Wilhelm says he cannot denounce his biological or genealogical connection but has gone on to question what he can do to address the apartheid architect's legacy.

He sat down with Eusebius to talk about how he has grappled with his identity, as well his personal commitment to social justice.

The political philosopher recently launched his book Verwoerd: My journey through family betrayals, which he has said sets out to help the discourse of making white South Africans realise the injustices and effects of apartheid.

There is this thing about what I prefer to talk about - the blood on my hands that is linked to the blood in my veins. There is a stigma, there is a deep wounding associated with this name, this person and this period and with my own involvement in that system.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Political philosopher and author

I was part of apartheid up into my early 20s I supported him. I am part of it, so I cannot distance myself from him and what he is responsible for.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Political philosopher and author

I am getting that probably this book is published because of that name to a large degree, and I have to somehow find a way to say how do I do this with integrity.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Political philosopher and author

It is quite problematic from a white point of view to actually get affirmation and acknowledgement from black South Africans for speaking out against apartheid, it really shouldn't be like that. It is a sign of our time that there are not enough people from my background speaking out, acknowledging and taking enough responsibility for restitution.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Political philosopher and author

Wilhelm says it is tempting to say his grandfather was evil but does not want to demonise him entirely.

The more frightening conclusion is that relatively good people like me are able to be responsible for an evil system... people like me are also like him and we cannot demonise him in a sense that makes it easier for us to live with ourselves.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Political philosopher and author

This kind of inclusive humanisation approach of people like Arch Bishop Tutu and many other people I have worked with has to find a place for him in his humanity while facing the evil that he is responsible for and the evil that his in him but also in me.

Wilhelm Verwoerd, Political philosopher and author

Click on the link below to hear the full interview...


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