Leon Lemmer: Om verskoning te vra en lewendig begrawe te word

Deel op

Amy Biehl (1967-1993) was ‘n Amerikaanse anti-apartheidsaktivis en ‘n student aan die Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland. Op 25 Augustus 1993 het sy ‘n aantal van haar mede-UWK-studente in haar motor na hulle tuiste in Gugulethu geneem. Omdat sy die enigste blanke in die motor was, is sy in Gugulethu met messe aangeval en gestenig. Sommige besittings van hierdie studente is ook gesteel. Die ANC en Desmond Tutu se sogenaamde Waarheids- en Versoeningskommissie het die vier swart moordenaars in 1998 vrygespreek omdat die Biehl-moord polities gemotiveerd was; asof politiek ‘n rassistiese moord op ‘n blanke regverdig.

Amy se ouers, Peter en Linda, het die WVK-bevinding aanvaar en die Amy Biehl-stigting, waarby swartes baat, in die lewe geroep. Twee van die moordenaars het in diens van hierdie stigting getree. Die Biehl-ouerpaar het uiters onbeskaafde kwaad met goedheid beloon. Hulle gedrag is in ooreenstemming met die polities-korrekte mode, maar ek sou nie tot sodanige vergiffenis in staat gewees het nie. Die gaping tussen my beskaafde Europese waardes en hierdie uiterste Afrika-onbeskaafdheid is nie met hande vat en die bou van spreekwoordelike brûe oorbrugbaar nie. Op ‘n dag het ek ‘n brood gekoop. By die huis lees ek op die plastieksakkie dat ek bedank word omdat ek deur die brood te koop, (onwetend) ‘n bydrae tot die Amy Biehl-stigting gemaak het. Ek was daarna daarop bedag om nooit weer so ‘n brood te koop nie.

Leakeys

Ek stel belang in die lot van blankes in Afrika en het reeds baie oor bv die blankes in Kenia geskryf en oor bv die Leakeys gelees. Hulle het ‘n sterk Brits-Anglikaanse oorsprong. Twee priesters is hier ter sake. Harry Leakey (1868-1940) het na Kenia geëmigreer. Sy seun, Louis (1903-1972), en sy vrou, Mary Nichol (1913-1996), het roem as paleo-antropoloë en argeoloë verwerf . Volgens hulle het die mensdom sy oorsprong in Oos-Afrika gehad. Een van hulle kinders, Richard (gebore in 1944), het in sy ouers se voetspore gevolg. ‘n Ander kind, Philip (gebore in 1949), het soos Richard ‘n Keniaanse politikus geword. Harry se broer en mede-priester, James (of John?) Arundell Leakey, het in Engeland aangebly, maar sy seun, Arundell Gray (1885-1954), het na Kenia gekom om Harry met die bou van ‘n sendingskool te help. Gray het vier kinders gehad: Nigel (1913-1941), Robert (1914-2013), Rea (1915-1999) en Agnes (1917-2006).

As sendeling was Harry by die grootste stam in Kenia, die Kikuyu, betrokke. Hy het heelwat gedoen om die Bybel in Kikuyu te vertaal. Al die genoemde Leakeys van Kenia kon/kan Kikuyu praat. Hulle het ook ‘n sterk anti-koloniale en pro-swart streep. In 1968 wou die Universiteit van die Witwatersrand eredoktorsgrade aan sowel Louis as Mary toeken. Louis was klaarblyklik polities meer linksgesind as Mary en het weens apartheid die verering geweier, terwyl Mary die eregraad aanvaar het. Daarna het Louis en Mary nooit weer saam gewoon nie. Richard het in 1993 albei sy bene in ‘n vliegongeluk verloor. In 1995 het hy die politiek betree. In 1997 is hy aangestel as die sekretaris van die kabinet en in 1999 as minister van die staatsdiens. In 2001 is hy ontslaan, blykbaar omdat hy te geslaagd korrupsie beveg en te veel mense uit die staatsdiens ontslaan het. Daarna was hy ‘n dosent in Amerika. As politikus en humanis het Richard voortgegaan om pro-swart te wees, maar hy het later met die godsdienstigheid van sy familie gebreek deur homself ‘n ateïs te noem. Philip was ook vir ‘n kort tydjie ‘n minister en die enigste blanke parlementslid. Nigel is op 19 Mei 1941 in Ethiopië na buitengewoon dapper optrede dood. Die Victoria Cross is nadoods aan hom toegeken.

Met die voorafgaande as agtergrond, bepaal ek my aandag voorts by twee Leakeys: Gray en sy dogter Agnes. Sy is in 1946 met ‘n Suid-Afrikaner, Bremer Hofmeyr (1909-1993), getroud. Sy het die volgende boek as Agnes Leakey Hofmeyr gepubliseer: Beyond violence: A true story of hurt, hate and hope (Johannesburg: Grosvenor Books, 1990, 90p; Amazon Kindle $6.89). Sedert 2012 word die boek deur The Jomo Kenyatta Foundation in Kenia gepubliseer, wat ‘n aanduiding van die strekking van die inhoud gee. Die Kindle-weergawe is sedert 2016 beskikbaar. Wat die Hofmeyrs betref, is dit duidelik dat die politiek van die outeur en haar man eerder aansluiting by die ANC/UDF-kameraad, Willie Hofmeyr, as by Steve Hofmeyr vind. Agnes skryf: “My husband’s family are one of the most liberal” (Kindle 1060).

Morele Herbewapening

Agnes is in Kenia gebore, was in Engeland op skool, sou as verpleegster opgelei word, maar het nooit sover gekom nie. Hoewel sy aanvanklik minder godsdienstig was, het sy as jong meisie by die beweging Moral Re-Armament/Morele Herbewapening (MHB) aangesluit. Toe die Tweede Wêreldoorlog uitbreek, was sy in Amerika en verplig om daar tot die einde van die oorlog te bly. Sy het haar man daar as ‘n mede-MHB-lid ontmoet. MHB het hulle lewenstaak geword en hulle as propagandiste/aktiviste dwarsoor die wêreld geneem. Dit kom voor asof hulle meer as ANC-ministers internasionaal gereis het. Daar was skynbaar geen tekort aan geld nie. Hulle het selfs vliegtuie gehuur om groot MHB-afvaardigings te vervoer (940). In baie lande het hulle tot op die hoogste vlak toegang tot mense verkry.

MHB het in 1938, dus voor die uitbreking van die Tweede Wêreldoorlog, onder leiding van ‘n Amerikaanse protestant, Frank Buchman (1878-1961), uit die Oxford Group ontstaan. Hy het geredeneer dat lande eerder moreel/geestelik as militêr moet herbewapen. Soos die marxiste wou hy die wêreld verander, beginnende by elke mens, en uitgaande van die veronderstelling dat hy mense en die wêreld kon verbeter. Met die oog hierop is religie ingespan. Omdat Buchman almal wou betrek, het hy MHB tussen fascisme en kommunisme geposisioneer en ook ‘n multi-religieuse benadering gevolg. In 2001 het MHB ‘n meer toepaslike naam gekry, wat duideliker sê wat beoog word: Initiatives for Change; dus iets soortgelyk aan wat ons sedert 1994 plaaslik as transformasie ken.

MHB was ‘n deurmekaarspul van rasse, etnisiteite en godsdienste wat wêreldwyd verandering wou bewerkstellig. Die boodskap is uitgedra tydens (massa)byeenkomste asook met verhoogproduksies en rolprente. MHB was globalisties en anti-nasionalisties ingestel. Net linkses, soos die Hofmeyr-egpaar, kon tuis daarin voel. MHB het, soos die ANC, hoop en vrede gepredik waar daar (dalk) geen hoop en vrede was nie. Mense moes glo polities en sosiaal aktivisties wees. MHB was ‘n sekte of kultus, wat ‘n soort kameraadskap bevorder het. Reeds in 1928, toe dit nog die Oxford Group was, het ‘n afvaardiging Suid-Afrika besoek. Ná die Nasionale Party se oorwinning in die 1948-verkiesing, het MHB die land weer in sy visier gehad. Die NP was aanvanklik gunstig beïndruk met MHB se godsdienstigheid, maar dit het spoedig vir skeptisisme en afkeur plek gemaak.

“In South Africa they [the Hofmeyrs] help start an action for all races with large inter-racial assemblies” (44). MHB het saam met die dekolonialiseringstroom geswem. Die motivering vir die publikasie van Agnes se boek in 1990 was deels om grondwetlike verandering in Suid-Afrika aan te moedig, met ‘n pro-swart strategie: “In South Africa today the stakes are so high that nothing should be withheld if it might in any way help the estranged people of our country to find one another in a new South Africa” (44).

Gray Leakey

Die outeur vertel dat die Kikuyu haar pa, Gray, “Morungaru, meaning tall and straight” (72), genoem het. Oor hulle swart bediendes en werkers op die plaas, in haar kinderdae in Kenia, skryf sy: “We trusted them completely” (82). Rumuruti, hulle eerste plaas, is deur ‘n erge droogte getref, gevolglik het hulle weggetrek. Haar pa was daarna ‘n jaar lank die bestuurder van die White Rhino Hotel in Nyeri. Hy het toe genoeg geld gespaar om ‘n plaas by Ngong (deesdae ‘n voorstad), 20 myl van Nairobi, te koop. Die plaas het veral koffie geproduseer, maar ook melk. In 1926 is Gray se vrou, dus Agnes se ma, dood weens blindedermontsteking. Die outeur het toe tydelik by haar oom, Harry, gaan woon en sy sendingskool bygewoon. Daarna was Gray se vier kinders in Engeland op skool. In hierdie konteks merk Agnes op: “There was the underlying bitterness against the snobbishness I felt in the British” (266).

Gray het na sy vrou se dood sy Ngong-plaas verkoop, weer getrou en ‘n ander plaas, sy derde, by Nyeri, gekoop. Agnes het ná skoolverlating ‘n jaar lank by hulle gewoon. Haar broer Robert was in Engeland en sy is terug daarheen. Robert “felt deeply and sincerely for the unemployed miners in Wales, and for others suffering hardship. But mixed up with his concern for the underprivileged were other aspects of the Communist faith, one of which was free love with its appeal of ‘liberation’. I was attracted and repelled at the same time … I weighed Robert’s beliefs against what I had learned about building a new society on Christ’s uncompromising standards and the belief that, insignificant as I was, I could yet be part of God’s overarching plan for all his children everywhere. In the silence of my heart I decided again that this was to be my path, and to the best of my ability I would let God pattern my course” (484). “I was determined to live in Africa … There was no way round giving my whole life to God” (500).

Agnes Hofmeyr

In Engeland maak Agnes kennis met die Oxford Group en in 1938 met MHB. Frank Buchman “had a burning conviction that material re-armament might win a war, but it would take moral and spiritual re-armament to build real peace” (521). As lid van ‘n MHB-groep is Agnes na Amerika. Spoedig breek die Tweede Wêreldoorlog uit, wat haar daar jare lank gestrand laat. “My heart felt deeply for Britain” (547). “I was homesick for Kenya” (568). Al drie haar broers het by die Britse weermag aangesluit. In Amerika ontvang sy die berig van haar broer, Nigel, se dood. Ook dat haar stiefma, Bessie, aan kanker dood is. Buchman “had been very much a father to me in America” (650). “I tried to live with my heart open to everyone, not just to those of my choosing” (619). Agnes ontmoet vir Bremer Hofmeyr in Amerika. Terwyl MHB-lede ná die oorlog per trein van Los Angeles na New York City reis, raak hulle verloof. Hulle trou in Londen en woon hulle eerste huweliksjaar daar. Hulle eersteling, Murray (1947-1996), is daar gebore.

Gray het teen hierdie tyd met Mary, sy derde vrou en van Ierse afkoms, getrou en steeds by Nyeri geboer. Van Londen, op pad na Kaapstad, het die Hofmeyr-egpaar Agnes se pa en nuwe stiefma besoek. Die Hofmeyrs se tweede kind, Gray, is in Suid-Afrika gebore. Plaaslik is die groep van 17 MHB-lede se “Christian commitment” waardeer. “They adhered to firm standards in their personal lives which endeared them to the strict Afrikaners. We were warmly received by all parties in Parliament. As long as the Nationalist government perceived us as an international group trying to help South Africa, building moral discipline in young people, we were greatly welcomed. As time went on and it became clear to them that we were serious about a wholly new society in which all men [people] of all races races could share equally, an iron curtain came down” (701).

“Dr Verwoerd, as Minister of Native Affairs, wrote to my husband, ‘Frustration must inevitably follow for the black intellectual when he does not find the equality in everday life which you give him in your mixed organisation.’ When he became Prime Minister he opposed us frontally and spoke against us in cabinet meetings. The then powerful Broederbond, the hard core of Afrikanerdom, warned their members across the nation against us. However our first reception was very friendly” (706). In Johannesburg het ‘n Skotse weldoener, Charles Burns, sy huis met slaapplek vir 13 mense aan MHB beskikbaar gestel. “[It] became the centre for our operation. It was our home for the next thirty years” (722).

“Our problem was how to build a new society in the midst of an old, seemingly entrenched, apartheid system that divided man from man on a basis of colour. A few things were clear. Behind political, economic, and social injustices there lay pride, selfishness, arrogance, prejudice, fear and hate in human hearts. These were the root of the problem, and any basic answer had to deal with these roots. Equally we believed that we from different races should pioneer new human relationships and be the new society. So from the outset we decided that the Burns-Hofmeyr home would be a home for all races. Today [1990] with cities opening up this is not news. But in 1950 when apartheid was a ‘religion’ this was simply not done” (727).

“The home became a place of building new human relationships” (732). “The meetings for all races in our living room continued to grow, and though we could squeeze fifty in at a pinch, it was clear that we needed a larger venue. In the nineteen fifties no public buildings allowed meetings of all races so we began to hold great inter-racial assemblies in large marquee tents outside Johannesburg” (743).

“We produced a play, ‘The forgotten factor’, dealing with industrial strife and reconciliation and played it widely in the mining towns of the Reef and the Free State” (759). “The Mineworkers [Union – the predecessor of Solidariteit] donated five hundred pounds to the play, the first public body in the country to do so” (770). Agnes skryf: “I found it difficult to get to know” Afrikaners. “The Hofmeyrs of course are Afrikaans and naturally I was expected to know the language. I did try hard to master but found it difficult” (770). Van haar swaer – Bremer het een suster gehad – hoor Agnes vir die eerste keer van die Britse konsentrasiekampe tydens die Anglo-Boereoorlog. “This moved me deeply and I began to study more about the Boer War … It had been an unjust and wicked war. I was terribly embarrassed and I began to understand why many Afrikaners hated us British” (776).

Mau Mau

Die Mau Mau het in 1949 met sy terrorisme in Kenia begin. “Some two thousand black Christians were murdered because they would not embrace Mau Mau and undergo its ritual oath-taking which was contrary to their Christian faith” (833). Tydens ‘n besoek aan Kenia het Agnes haar pa en stiefma genooi om hulle in Suid-Afrika te vestig omdat sy vir hulle veiligheid gevrees het. Gray wou bv nie ‘n vuurwapen met hom saamdra nie. “Dad thought for a long time. Then he said he was grateful for the offer but they felt that God’s plan for them was that they should stay where they were” (843).

Gray en Agnes het ‘n Britse aanhoudingskamp vir Mau Mau terroriste by die Athi-rivier besoek en van die aangehoudenes ondervra. Hulle moes klagtes aanhoor soos: “He was treated as a second class citizen by whites … Mau Mau offered him a chance to get his revenge … Then others spoke of humiliations and injustices they had suffered” (854). “This was the sort of thing that had made so many bitter en disillusioned and turned them against Christianity and the white man. Mau Mau, they felt, offered them a chance to win back and run their own country” (859). Plaaslik het Nelson Mandela hom op ‘n soortgelyke manier uitgelaat. Agnes skryf: “The relationship between a sophisticated colonising people and a simple colonised people is a difficult one anywhere. In Kenya the whites thought the blacks were often lazy and irresponsible. The white housewife spent a lot of time chivvying her servants. ‘Chunga’ is the great word – ‘get moving’. The blacks resented it – especially from a woman” (881).

“Like many Kenyans we had tried to be ‘good’ to our black servants but we had taken the whole colonial structure for granted and this was the target of Mau Mau. The land question – why a white minority owned so much of the best land in the ‘White Highlands’ never struck us as a problem. To the Mau Mau it was quite fundamental” (929).

Gray vermoor

“Kenya farmers, being a stubborn breed, are not lightly given to apology and there was a belief that if you aplogised to blacks you would lose their respect. Yet my father felt that this was what God was asking him to do. So one morning he gathered the farm staff and spoke to them humbly and sincerely. He spoke of the times he had hurt their feelings in anger. No doubt he had also often hurt them without realising it. He asked for their forgiveness. He spoke about the farm and how he wanted it run not just for his own profit but for the good of all and for the good of the country” (887). “The white farmers armed themselves. Dad wondered what to do. If he carried a gun would it be taken to mean that he did not trust his men? He decided to walk the farm unarmed with danger pressing round” (897).

Terwyl die Hofmeyrs in Amerika is, word hulle per kabelgram ingelig dat Gray ontvoer en sy vrou vermoor is. “I was in a turmoil. I was filled with hatred towards the black people. I wanted revenge. I felt there could not be a God to allow such things to happen” (903). “Then through all the turmoil the thought came perfectly clearly, ‘Have no bitterness or hatred but fight harder than ever to bring a change of heart to black and white alike.’ It seemed impossible, but it did open a door of hope for the future” (908). “Then further news came and my worst fears were realised. A so called prophetess of the Mau Mau was behind it. Things were not going well for Mau Mau and she said it was because the gods were angry. They had to be placated by a human sacrifice. It must be a good [white – 34] man they offered to their gods and that was why they had chosen my father” (913).

“Some sixty Mau Mau had attacked the house which sheltered my father, his wife Mary, her daughter, our cook and the cook’s son. The cook was a loyal Catholic and had refused to join the Mau Mau for reason of his faith. He was hung from a tree and disembowelled. Mary tried to get her daughter to safety. She helped her to climb through a trap door in the bathroom ceiling. Mary did not have the strength left to get herself up and she was murdered on the spot, but her daughter was saved.* My father was carried off into the bush” (913). “The son of the cook trailed the Mau Mau band to see what would happen to Dad. They headed up Mount Kenya which is a sacred mountain to the Kikuyu. From time to time my father spoke to them in Kikuyu. Things were wrong in the country, he said. They had to change … He was laid in a shallow grave which had been dug on the mountain side. Still he spoke to his captors until they covered him over with earth and buried him alive as an offering to their gods. Dogs and goats were also buried in the grave as part of the ritual sacrifice” (918). Later: “Dad’s body was brought to Nyeri where he was buried with Mary in the Anglican cemetery looking straight up to Mount Kenya” (923).

[* Willie Esterhuyse verwys na Agnes se boek. Sy weergawe van die gebeurtenisse is dat Agnes (wat toe in Amerika was) “oorleef het met behulp van ‘n swart Keniaan” (Oorlog en vrede , Naledi, 2019, p 67). Esterhuyse is geneig om komplimente vir swartes te soek waar daar geen sprake van so iets behoort te wees nie. Dit is Agnes se stiefma, Mary, se dogter, wat danksy Mary se optrede oorleef het. ‘n Mens kan maar net hoop dat Esterhuyse meer waarheidsgetrou omgaan met die talle ander inligtingsbronne waarna hy in sy boek verwys.]

Agnes se reaksie

“One day another thought came to me … ‘You must be responsible for the sins of your race, just as you are responsible for your own wrongs'” (929). Maar Agnes pas dit op die blankes toe; nie op die swartes nie. Oor haar latere toespraak by ‘n groot byeenkoms van Kikuyu skryf sy: “I spoke from my heart and apologised for the arrogance and selfishness of so many whites that had helped to create the bitterness and hatred in their hearts. I said how much I longed to see God’s answer come to Kenya and all of Africa so that tragedies like this would never happen again and that I had given my life to this task … Afterwards many of them came up to me and said how sorry they were for what had happened to my family … I was touched by what they said and all traces of bitterness that lingered in my heart were washed away. I felt that they were my friends. We were meant to work together to build something new in the country. For us the day was a healing of the heart” (970).

“I have drawn closer to people up and down Africa through this sorrow than I could ever have done without it” (1022). “In time the total disaster became an experience that has done more than anything else to help bring healing around me” (1076). “All too often we lay at God’s door events that are the product of human foolishness or human wickedness. I do not know whether in this case it was the sins of imperialism, the arrogance of ordinary whites, or evil spirits at work in embittered black minds – perhaps something of each” (1081). Dit is duidelik dat Agnes die fout veral aan die blankes toeskryf. Volgens haar is daar nie sprake van (natuurlike) boosheid by die swartes nie; hoogstens dat hulle dalk deur bose geeste mislei is. “I had to identify with the wrong things we whites had done and realise that I stood in need of forgiveness” (1092). “As I wrestled with my problem through stormy nights of tears, more and more my thoughts focused on what we whites had done in Kenya” (1087). Eintlik praat sy haar pa en stiefma se moorde goed.”God … will in ways we cannot foresee or plan, bring something good out of evil, something positive out of pain” (1081).

Onmiddellik ná hierdie byeenkoms het Agnes en haar man haar pa se plaas besoek. “We found the farm house derelict. The doors were hanging on bent hinges, swinging to and fro. The furniture had been removed or broken” (981). “I thought of the fact that my father had built this home with his own hands” (986). Sy ervaar die toestand waarin die huis verval het nie as teenstrydig met haar visie (in die voorlaaste paragraaf hier bo) van “build something new” nie. “I thought of the herds of elephants that had trekked across our farm twice each year … Would they continue their life, or would civilization [!] contain and finally destroy them?” (986). Het die era van beskawing vir Kenia aangebreek, of eerder die teenoorgestelde?

‘n Swarte het saam met die Hofmeyr-egpaar die plaas besoek. “It meant a lot to us that at our side was a black South African with whom we shared the commitment to build a new Africa” (991). Bied die koelbloedige moorde wat op hierdie plaas gepleeg is, die manier waarop haar pa lewend begrawe is en die toestand waarin die plaashuis so gou verval het ‘n realistiese of bruikbare grondslag vir ‘n nuwe Afrika? Sy skryf van Kenia se “peaceful transition to black rule” (1022), soortgelyk aan die leuen wat plaaslik verkondig word dat Suid-Afrika in 1990/94 te midde van erge ANC/SAKP-terrorisme ‘n vreedsame oorgang na “demokrasie” beleef het.

Robert Mugabe het in 1980 ná Zimbabwe se politieke onafhanklikheid dieselfde laai uitgehaal as Jomo Kenyatta, die eerste staatshoof van Kenia ná politieke onafhanklikheid in 1963: “Kenyatta called a meeting of the white farmers at Nakuru … If he had hurt anyone, he said, he asked for their forgiveness. Where he had been hurt he was ready to forgive. The past was past. They had to build the future together. Yet I believe that meeting was one of the great acts of statemanship of Africa” (1022). In sowel Kenia as Zimbabwe is die rassistiese skroef van doelbewuste blanke benadeling egter spoedig aangedraai.

In Suid-Afrika het Nelson Mandela, wat deesdae voorgehou word as ‘n vredemaker en versoener by uitnemendheid, nooit verskoning vir die ANC/UDF/SAKP se terrorisme gevra nie. Plaaslik word die blankes sedert 1994 toenemend blatant benadeel, met onteiening sonder vergoedingvan blankes se besittings as die jongste skuif. Dit is gewoon owerheidsgoedgekeurde diefstal. Maar Agnes skryf waaragtig: “Unemployed have seen stealing as the only road to survival and if blacks take from whites it is not hard to feel that they are taking what is rightfully theirs” (1065). Dan vervolg sy, skynbaar sonder om bewus van die teenstrydigheid te wees: “Integrity … alone can be a trustworthy foundation for the new building we seek to erect [in South Africa]” (1065).

Laurens van der Post (1906-1996), ‘n blanke Afrikaanssprekende van Philippolis in die Vrystaat, wat alte graag ‘n Brit wou wees en voorgegee het dat hy ‘n Afrika-kenner is, bv deur baie valshede oor die Boesmans te verkondig, het in sy huis in Londen aan Agnes gesê: “I want to be sure you understand that it was the greatest compliment that could be paid to your father that he was chosen by the Kikuyu for sacrifice. Only the best is good enough for the gods” (1033). Ek is dankbaar dat ek nie hiervoor kwalifiseer nie. Agnes skryf: “Africa lives close to violence. But also Africa has an extraordinary capacity for reconciliation when the conflict is over” (1033). In die nuwe Suid-Afrika word die verlede voortdurend selektief (anti-blank, pro-swart) opgehaal. Uitsluitlik van die blankes word verwag om skuldig te voel en saam te werk, sonder om te mor en te kla oor blatante rassediskriminasie en doelbewuste benadeling.

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