In 1988 after decades as an anti-apartheid activist and member of the ANC Albie Sachs lost his right arm and an eye when his car was blown up by South African security agents. He was already living in exile and had been imprisoned twice but as he recovered from his injuries he decided that he would write his way to recovery. The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter is his own moving and intimate account of his long recovery in a hospital and rehabilitation unit and his gradual re-entry into life and politics and the parallel emergence of an apartheid-free South Africa.
Sachs writes of his years spent working for justice in South Africa, as well as humorously detailing his body’s sensations as he learns to walk again and his struggles in learning to write with his left hand while expressing his euphoria at finding himself alive day after day.
Along with his insider’s view of the recent history of South Africa, from the election of Nelson Mandela to his own role with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, are private reflections. ‘Was it worth it?’ he asks. His unforgettable and inspiring answer is a resounding ‘yes’. The ‘soft vengeance’ he has achieved is not to inflict pain and injustice on those who attacked him but to help in the creation of a society where humanity and justice triumph over cruelty and racist division.
Albie Sachs first became involved in human rights activism in 1952 and was appointed by Nelson Mandela to be Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa in 1994. He was awarded the Alan Paton Award in 1991 for The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter.
“I’ve never read anything quite like this book, wild, loving, sad, with humour striking deep as emotion.”
“A highly personal and sensually explicit odyssey concerning his own damaged body at the same time as writing a book imbued with apparently undaunted idealism concerning his damaged mother-country South Africa.”
Times Educational Supplement
“That Sachs retains his humanity and his overwhelming desire to give his compatriots human rights is remarkable.”