Jason Carter, the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, writes of a South Africa few people ever see. During his two years as a Peace Corps volunteer, Carter stayed with a rural family in Lochiel, a former black homeland near the Swaziland border. South Africa is a country still racked by deep racial divides. The whites live much as other Westerners, with nice houses and nice cars. The blacks, Carter found, live in a world of grinding poverty and unemployment, where school children do not dare to hope, and where casual crime is accepted as a way to get back at whites. Even after Nelson Mandela's regime-shattering election as president, whites and blacks literally cannot communicate with each other. During his training Carter learned Zulu and Siswati, two of the many black languages, and with these tools he began breaking down racial barriers. Everywhere blacks befriended him, delighted to find a white person who spoke in their tongue. Carter was invited to engagement parties and funerals. He rode all over the country in overcrowded black taxis and hitchhiked in cars driven by both blacks and whites.
In the process he found many people on both sides that want to reach out to each other. And that is Carter's message. Even in a society as divided as South Africa, people's desire to come together will triumph over all.