Being Chris Hani’s Daughter By Lindiwe Hani & Melinda Ferguson (Jacana)

For years after her father was slain in the driveway of their home in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, Lindiwe Hani nursed a wish to meet the killers who had upended her happy childhood, made her mother a widow and denied South Africa of a highy regarded politician many believe could have succeeded Mandela as President.

Lindiwe needed closure. After her dad’s loss, she became unhinged as a young adult, descending into a life of marijuana, booze and cocaine.

After kicking her addictions, Lindiwe resolved to own her life story by writing a book. Co-writer and publisher Melinda Ferguson enters the picture. To tell the story of how her life shattered when Janusz Walus pulled the trigger on that fateful day in April 1993, she had to relate her personal history, which, sadly, is anti-climactic apart from the sorrow of losing a boyfriend who dies in car accident and sister Khwezi who dies mysteriously, possibly from drug overdose or, as Lindiwe still believes, foul play.

The book is structured to make the meeting with the killers the climax, but, accompanied by Ferguson, Lindiwe doesn’t seem to know what to say to Clive Derby-Lewis, a former leader of the Conservative Party who is slowly dying of cancer after being imprisoned for 23 years for his role in the assassination.

It was never going to be easy, but the questions posed to Derby-Lewis sound contrived and the entire conversation hollow. The tale fares slightly better when she meets Walus. Having sought answers to long-standing questions, she doesn’t seem to know where she stands on the whole reconciliation-forgiveness spectrum. Should she forgive these men or channel her mother’s unyielding anger?

Maybe that’s the problem with co-authorship. Where does Lindiwe’s voice start and end? Is she her own writer or do we have a Raymond Carver-Gordon Lish situation here? The part about addiction is unnecessarily drawn out.

Regardless, it’s a great book that offers touching glimpses of Hani the revolutionary, the father, husband and politician.

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