The book opens with Nelson Mandela, as a fictional character, talking to his White jailer, Dirk Kortella, in a lonely prison cell in South Africa. Their conversations on life, humankind, God and liberty were confidential since, in an Apartheid state, the consequences of sharing thoughts and philosophy or anything with a Black man would be, for the loyalist, unfathomable.
Nelson Mandela sits in full-fledged discussion in a barren prison cell - Robben Island 1972. His counterpart, the still youthful Dirk Kortella, his Afrikaner jailer, a product of his system. Mandela speaks of meaning through language, love, humanity and Almost Impossible Thoughts. Kortella listens. Yet this fictional novel, Clarity in Time, isn’t Mandela’s story. Rather it is the story of the ‘interested bystander’ - those among us who read the newspapers over breakfast, stamp our feet at the evening news in the comfort of our lounge-rooms, share these same concerned discussions with our friends and loved ones over our dining room tables, yet don’t know how to move our thoughts into action – beyond the confines of our own four walls.