Interview with John Pilger

Opinion: The British Empire: A legacy of violence?


This interview was conducted on 9 April 1997 by British journalist John Pilger during an anti-apartheid protest organized by the British Committee for the People’s Charter at the University of Natal, Durban. Pilger went on to become one of the most vocal critics of South Africa’s Nationalist Party government.

John Pilger: My name is John Pilger, and I’m an Australian, but I come from South Africa.

My first job was as an Australian journalist in Zimbabwe. There were people who were in my country, and we were sent to see them, to talk to them. It was a very unusual thing that I did, and it’s an experience that shaped me.

I found in Zimbabwe that there were the most extraordinary people I’ve met, and they’re still part of my life.

The first time I’ve ever interviewed South Africans is in 1972. I was a journalist with the Observer newspapers.

I came to London and saw this extraordinary people running all around, from South Africa, to Australia, to the United States, to Europe, to Britain, to everywhere. Then the apartheid government came, and my newspaper had to stop doing business with South Africa. For 40 years South Africa has been a part of the world and had a part of the British Empire and there was an empire of violence there. I found it hard to come back to Australia. It’s a shame.

I’m on a tour to Africa. There’s a lot of anger in Africa, and we’ve got to get out of there. The last thing I wanted to do was go to Africa. And I’ve done that.

So now it’s time to start asking some questions. What’s happening in South Africa? How is it that this is happening again? And can it be stopped.

I understand, first of all,

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