The reason and right to call South Africa home

In her column "Commit to South Africa" (Sept. 4, opinion page), I want to correct a misperception that may arise through Helena Cobban's phrase: "But most whites agreed to stay on in the country they'd come to love...."

This gives the impression - as does so much written about white people in Africa - that we are transplants, transients. I am white,but I am African first. I was born here, as were my parents, and have lived here all my life. When I am away, I miss it dreadfully: the sounds of African voices; the deep blue of wide skies; the African palette of hues, with ochre rocks, yellow veld, and faun-colored rivers; the commonplace sights in suburban gardens, strelitzias and crested barbets in flashes of orange and yellow; the music, kwaito, kwela, African sounds and rhythms; and the warmth of my people - all of my people.

Unlike many white South Africans, I have no conflict about love for my country because I was raised in an antiapartheid home. But even those who resent their countrymen can and do feel as though they belong nowhere else. It's time the world realized that white Africans are entitled to a sense of belonging in their homeland.

Mandi Smallhorne

Wilropark, South Africa

Palestinians embrace calm resistance

Although I appreciate your coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I believe you do not focus enough on diversity in the Palestinian response. While suicide bombers, Palestinian violence, and Israeli attacks are old news, it is less well-known that there is a nonviolent Palestinian campaign in the Occupied Territories. More and more Palestinians are choosing nonviolent resistance, following in the steps of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Palestinian organizations such as the Center for Rapprochement - joining with international groups - accompany Palestinians through checkpoints, settler violence, or shelling. Palestinian villages invite these groups to promote nonviolence. Only a few Palestinians take up weapons against Israelis - yet these are the Palestinian feats we read about. Ending the Israeli occupation is a necessary first step toward establishing peace in the Middle East. Nonviolent resistance is one of our best hopes for achieving this.

Linda Bevis


NOW should focus on daily struggles

The position that the National Organization for Women (NOW) is taking in regard to Andrea Yates - and the fact that NOW takes a position at all - solidifies the group's image as serving the interests of white, upper-middle-class women, college-educated women, and women of color ("Texas mom's new defender: feminists," Aug. 31). It's time for NOW to change itsname, or work harder at catering to the daily struggles of US women.

Drowning all five of your children because of postpartumpsychosis is not an everyday struggle.An accused person being able to afford a solid defense in the criminal justice system is.

Amy Stoll

San Diego, Calif.

Watching birds soar, hearing trees fall

On my last day of summer vacation, I enjoyed your article on osprey ("Lifted on the wings of an osprey," Aug. 27, Home Forum). I was reminded of two things: first, an article I read long ago alluding to nature's beneficial effect on the spirit; second, the idea that the earth does not belong to people, but they to the earth.

Your series on illegal logging in Indonesia ("If a tree falls...," Aug. 23-27) and the "progress" I see in my own community every time a tree - or a group of trees - falls to put up a building is an unfavorable omen for man and beast.

Janice Gintzler

Crestwood, Ill.

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