A group of black journalists has criticized editor Donald Woods, who fled South Africa earlier this year to publish a book on black consciousness leader Steve Biko, for "exploting" his friendship with the slain black leader.
The journalists, attending a congress in Durban of the all-black Writers' Association of South Africa, also called Woods, who is white, a "hypocrite," charging the position of black journalists on his paper."
This marks the second time that Woods, 43, who has addressed the U.N. General Assembly and U.S. congressional committees on the situation in South Africa, has been criticized by blacks here. The salvos are coming from both moderate and radical blacks.
The writer's association is made up primarily of young urban blacks who are followers of the black consciousness movement, which promotes all-black organizations as a way of building black pride in this white-ruled counttry.
Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, whose more moderate views put him at logger-heads with the black consciousness movement, also attacked Woods for his appeals that the international community impose economic sanctions against South Africa to force the white government to change its policies.
The criticism of the former editor illustrate both of the declining effectiveness of liberal whites who sympathize with black aspirations and how difficult it is for an exile to speak for people living in the country he left behind.
"If the Woods episode brings home one truth, it is how irrelevant that kind of white liberalist has become in the search for solutions to South Africa's problems," read Tuesday's editorial in the Afrikaans newspaper Die Beeld.
Woods was editor of the Daily Dispatch in the port town of East London and formed a friendship with Biko, 31, who was the target of police harassment because of his political activities. Biko died last September while in police custody.
Woods had promoted Biko and his ideas in the columns of his newspaper, and after Biko died Woods crossed verbal swords with minister of police and justice, Jimmy Kruger over the circumstances of the black leaders' death. This antagonism led to Woods being served last October with a "banning" order which prevented him from working, attending any public gathering and writing. Unwilling to submit to these restrictions for the next five years and eager to publish a book he had written on Bilo, Woods fled South Africa into neighboring black-ruled Lesotho last January. He and his family subsequently moved to England.