Michael Lapsley, Priest and Partisan – A South African Journey

One of the assumptions is that the motive of the attack was to suspend the negotiations that led to the definitive end of apartheid. That did not succeed, but it says enough about the Michael Lapsley's importance against apartheid.

Book „Michael Lapsley, Priest and Partisan – A South African Journey“ by the South African theologian Michael Worsnip is a biography of Michael Lapsley, Anglican priest, especially a fighter against apartheid. Perhaps no one biography does not entail the retention on the definition of the genre as this one. It seems that word biography, in the case of this book, is trying to be disloyal to its etymology on one morbid way. As we know, „biography“ is composed of two words, „a writing“ and „life“. Word biography in the case of Michael Lapsley meaning of its constituent „a writing“1  changes in „a letter“ and becoming its own blood parody. Specifically, what has the greatest impact on the life of Michael Lapsley's and what is impossible to omit from his biography, as well as the fight against apartheid, is a letter that he received at his address in Zimbabwe 1990th. It was a letter bomb. When the Lapsley tried to open it, it exploded and he has lost both his hands and one eye.

One of the assumptions is that the motive of the attack was to suspend the negotiations that led to the definitive end of apartheid. That did not succeed, but it says enough about the Michael Lapsley's importance against apartheid.

For Michael Worsnip probably was not a problem to write a good book. There are many reasons, he wrote about a man from New Zealand, the priest who fought against apartheid in South Africa, which advocated armed struggle against apartheid, which is a Marxist to the extent that Marxism is compatible with the Theology of Liberation and who has endured terrible physical trauma due to mentioned struggle. So, details listed above are interesting per se.

The most interesting are the details which describe Lapsley's struggles not only with apartheid, but also his inner struggles, struggles with the church hierarchy, with his disability, etc. The book is divided into seven chapters. In each of them is described some of the aspects of his struggle. The first chapter relates to the bomb blast and the period immediately after, it relates to the struggle for survival. The second chapter is about the breakup of his own illusions regarding the non-violent struggle against apartheid. The third and fourth chapters are about Lapsley's exile, first in Lesotho and then in Zimbabwe. The fifth chapter is titled same as one Lapsley's book Neutrality or Co-option? – that originally was Lapsley's master thesis. In this chapter we can read about the Lapsley's thought and foundation of his views and life decisions not only in the need imposed by life experience, but also in theory. The sixth chapter is about Lapsley's adapting to disability but also about the environment getting used to it. Chapter seven brings us there where Lapsley is today, and it is about his dealing with memories healing. Certainly, we can not say that each chapter only discusses how is specified herein, but that is what is new for us and these are themes which are dominating within these chapters.

About this biography is said many laudable words and I will extract here what Nelson Mandela said in the preface of the book. He said that Michael's life is „a part of the tapestry of many long journeys and fight of our (South African, A/N) people“. However, this thesis is, according to the book, half true, it would be completely true if at the end of this sentence is „and vice versa“. Simply, Michael Lapsley's life and struggle of the people of South Africa are reflected in one another. The book is published in English in 1996., two years after the first democratic elections in South Africa. In Bosnian language first and only time it is appeared in 2010th published in the NGO GARIWO edition Question of All Questions.

Amer Tikveša

 

[1] The text is written in Bosnian and then translated into English. It is important to know that words „the writing“ and „the letter“ are homonymous in Bosnian language.

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