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“Ο φονιάς” η πρώτη βιογραφία του Δημήτρη Τσαφέντα
από την εφημερίδα: ΤΗΕ ΝEW YORK TIMES
The Worm Did It
By Rob Nixon
Published: June 24, 2001
A Story of Race and Rage in the Land of Apartheid.
By Henk Van Woerden.Translated by Dan Jacobson.
176 pp. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt & Company. $23.
Nov. 22, 1963: All the adults at my birthday party lurch toward the radio as the South African announcer declares John F. Kennedy dead. Sept. 6, 1966: the second assassination date etched in boyhood memory. The South African prime minister is stabbed four times, in full view of Parliament. Hendrik Verwoerd, grand wizard of white supremacy, dies from a punctured lung and heart. The news electrifies the nation’s black and white communities.
If Kennedy’s assassination spawned whole libraries of speculation, the Verwoerd case was quickly sealed. Dimitri Tsafendas was a ”mad Greek” who followed instructions from a giant tapeworm. An insane act by an insane man. Case closed. Even Nelson Mandela dismissed Tsafendas as an ”obscure white messenger.”
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In ”The Assassin,” the first biography of Tsafendas, Henk Van Woerden has rescued this ”mad Greek” from obscurity, whiteness and insanity. Van Woerden, a Dutch writer who spent his youth in South Africa, interviewed Tsafendas in the mental institution where he died in 1999 at 81. From these interviews, through creative sleuthing and from files in South Africa’s state archives, Van Woerden has pieced together a politics and a history for a man permitted neither.
Tsafendas, it emerges, lived as an illegitimate from conception to coffin. His Crete-born father, Michaelis, emigrated to Portuguese East Africa, later Mozambique, where he kept a mixed-race maid, Amelia Williams, who was also his concubine. When Williams gave birth to Tsafendas, the child threatened to become a scandal. Michaelis dismissed the mother and she disappeared. He sent the boy to Alexandria, Egypt, to be reared by a grandmother. When she grew frail Dimitri returned to his father.
Not until he was 18 did Tsafendas learn of his origins. They explained a lot: his rejection by his father and Greek stepmother; family-condoned sexual abuse; the racial tauntings he endured when sent away to a white South African boarding school.