(This is Part V of my six-part travelogue from shooting our documentary film, The Clubhouse: A Post-Apartheid Story. To join our team, please visit our Indiegogo site. For more travelogue, here’s Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV & Part VI.)
Race relations in The Rainbow Nation: progress is two putts forward, one putt back. (Photo: Justin Keane)
VENTERSDORP, South Africa – It’s not hard to figure out which golfer bellowed that dreaded insult, kaffir.
This fellow, Derrick, had already sent our crew a negative vibe, standing out from the friendlier folks with his gruffness. I hadn’t yet met him, but now need to confront him, respectfully: Why’d you use that word? And what will you do now?
I ask around at the Club for his phone number, explaining that I want to give Derrick a fair chance to explain his actions. Defend himself. Maybe, express remorse.
I don’t look forward to a combative call, though I prefer it to a gotcha-journalism that might force me to drive out to his farm. Where he may slam a door in my face. Or, greet me by the barbwire with snarling dogs and loaded shotgun. It’s a possibility, in a town that’s seen several white farmers killed in recent years.
Finally, on Tuesday morning, I get around to calling Derrick – 36 hours after the Sunday-afternoon incident. Minimally, I want reaction. Even a raging No comment! and abrupt hang-up is still a comment. It speaks volumes, no less.
Fortunately, my cameraman is a seasoned hand. He suggests, brilliantly: If you’re going to call him, let’s get the mic on you, put him on speaker – and film it.
(We’ll eventually stream this and other interviews on our website for The Clubhouse: A Post-Apartheid Story, preserving it as if in a time-capsule.)
As the phone rings for Derrick, my heart beats faster. A touch of anxiety. I need this potentially reluctant source to talk – and say something of real value.
And boy, does Derrick talk. Although, not at first.
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