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Being Chris Hani's Daughter




ISBN 978 920601812

Lindiwe Hani was 12 when her father was gunned down outside her then new family home in Dawn Park, Boksburg, Ekurhuleni.

Unlike her elder sister Khwezi who was at home and had to see their father die in a pool of blood, Lindiwe was away in Lesotho with her mother, Limpho.

The trauma of death on surviving children is well-documented. This book gives an account of how Lindiwe dealt - or tried to deal - with the pain of losing her father.

She did not do well, clearly, as she descended into an orgy of alcohol and drug abuse.

Her sister, Khwezi, died in an alleged drug overdose.

At the time of writing, Lindiwe had been clean for a considerable period of time. Her co-author, Melinda Ferguson, has a history of using and overcoming substances.

Their bond through Lindiwe’s treacherous path to sobriety makes for touching reading. Missed appointments and temper tantrums were all part of this journey as Lindiwe grappled with “being Chris Hani’s daughter” and finding her own voice.

She never loses sight of the fact that her father, former uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) commander and general secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP) Chris Hani was a colossus.

This alone is already an albatross around the neck of a daughter seeking her father’s approval. Will she live up to them, is a constant worry that keeps her awake at night. She feels inadequate and inevitably falls short.

It doesn’t help her much that her mother, Hani’s widow Limpho, is obsessed with not bringing the family name into disrepute. Her children have to behave in a certain way to hold aloft the Hani legacy. But truth is that they are his children; they are not Chris Hani.

This is a daughter-father love story of admiration and respect. Surely the fiery Chris Hani will sleep better knowing how much his Lindiwe loved him.

But if the departed watch over the living from the other side, as Lindiwe herself believes, he surely noted her trials and tribulations.

How he reacts to her fallibility is a source of great torment for Lindiwe, whose saving grace is that she goes into rehab and, as she says, will never look back.

She had everything a doting father like Chris would have made possible for his brood - the best schools included.

She will never find reason to stand on any mountain top and claim her parents failed her.

But Being Chris Hani’s Daughter becomes the sort of book the reader was promised when Lindiwe visits the two men at the head of the plot to assassinate her father, mastermind Clive Derby-Lewis and the trigger man Janusz Walus.

The book really comes alive during these meetings. It allows the reader a window into the mindset of those like Gaye Derby-Lewis, Clive’s widow, who tries to move the conversation away from Lindiwe’s business for the visit.

She sees Walus, not once but twice in prison. She catches herself feeling empathy for Walus!

Is this betraying the memory of her father - to feel a tinge of fondness for a man who killed her father?

It is a necessary book, not only for how cathartic writing it has been for Chris Hani’s daughter but also for removing the mask of the hardened soldier to reveal the soft underbelly of a loving father and husband, a genial family man.                   

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