In My Country | 2005
In 1996, the South African government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to investigate abuses of human rights under Apartheid. Under the chairmanship of Nobel Peace laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the commission was mandated to examine acts committed between March 1960, the date of the Sharpeville massacre, and May 10, 1994, the day of Mandela's inauguration as president. In accordance with the African principle of "Ubuntu," which strives to create harmony amongst all people by absolving transgressions, the commission set up a series of hearings throughout the country to help heal the wounds of Apartheid. The hearings would serve as a forum for the perpetrators of murder and torture during the apartheid era to come forward and confront their victims. By telling the unvarnished truth and expressing contrition, they might be granted amnesty, if they could prove that their crimes were politically motivated--that they were only following orders. Langston Whitfield is a Washington Post journalist, sent to South Africa to cover the TRC hearings. He is apprehensive about the trip, as he is skeptical about the process of reconciliation--feeling that it is just a way for the perpetrators to escape without punishment. Anna Malan is an Afrikaans poet covering the hearings for South African state radio and NPR in the US. Anna is enthusiastic about the process before them, having great reverence for her native African traditions, and great hopes to see her country healed. Thrown together as members of the international press corps, Langston and Anna meet and are instantly at odds over their opposing views of the hearings. But over time, their shared experience of listening to the moving and painful testimony brings them ever closer. Meanwhile, searching for a more sensational angle for his story, Langston tracks down Col. De Jager, the most notorious torturer in the SA Police, and tries to penetrate the mind of a monster. Unexpectedly, the experience forces him to confront his own demons and leads to the discovery of a devastating connection between Anna and the perpetrators of violence.