The 18th of July, marks the 95th birthday of Nelson Mandela.
Amidst all the media reports of his illness and people bringing tributes and prayers for his recovery, I thought about our country and the state it finds itself in.
Today I venture where I promised myself I will not go, the political and social arena of my country. However, with so much going on around me and so many feelings and thoughts swirling in my mind, I have to break my own rule and vent my feelings.
Adult whispers in the house, conversations suddenly stopped when we, the kids entered the room, words such as communists, terrorists, anarchy, heard and not understood. Fear in my childish mind causing nightmares of hordes of Zulu Impis storming the house and killing us all! The visions of the Zulu Impis being the legacy of history lessons in school teaching about the Great Trek of the Voortrekkers ( pioneers) from the Cape of Good Hope to the Transvaal.
This was the atmosphere in the average white middle class home in 1963.
The year when Nelson Mandela and his co accused were facing their trial after being captured in the suburb of Rivonia in Johannesburg South Africa.
Nelson Mandela and his co accused were sent to prison. Then followed a period of 27 years when South Africa was a turbulent place to live in. Bombs exploded in public places, killing and maiming many innocent people, violent scenes between police forces and protesters were common sights on the evening news.Young men died in border skirmishes between the then terrorists and soldiers. Atrocities took place on both sides.
Yes we did live in an unjust society, but on an individual level people of all races lived peacefully together.
Many times I wondered whether I will live long enough to marry have children and a career, or will I also be one of the unfortunate ones caught in the violence?
Time passed and I did have my career, marriage and children.
In 1990 Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Together with many other people I watched him walking free, not knowing what to expect, After all we the white people of South Africa could now be held accountable for the time he spent in prison.
Turned out, not so!
No this man I knew and feared as a terrorist, showed the greatest character and spirit of forgiveness. A true leader and peacemaker.
I am deeply thankful towards Nelson Mandela for the way in which he handled his freedom. He is a beacon of hope in the history of our country. Now he is old and sick , unable to influence those in positions of power , unable to influence the future direction of our country and together with many others I fear for this beautiful home of ours.
Rainbow Nation Unmasked.
The Rainbow Nation was born in 1994 when the first democratic government in South Africa was elected.
Now 19 years later I ask myself what has changed ?
Yes we have a democratically elected government. Do we?
Why then do I hear ordinary citizens say they are afraid not to vote for a certain political party as their houses will be burnt if they do not vote for the right party.
Maybe, but a real one in their minds.
Yes all are equal, Are we?
Why are young adults who were born after 1994 and who had no part in apartheid or the injustices of the past being blamed and set aside due to the colour of their skin? Yes it still happens, only now the colour not to be is white.
Why do we still pass homeless people sleeping underneath a tree in the cold winter, while others enrich themselves with money meant to help the unfortunate among us?
Why do children still have to go to school and try to learn while sharing one chair or even sitting on the ground underneath a tree in all weathers? Others have to write exams after never receiving textbooks intended for them to learn from.
A legacy of apartheid after 19 years as is proclaimed on the news?
I don’t think so.
Yes all are free. Are we?
Why do we live in bondage of fear aggression and hate?
Fear, anger and aggression are bubbling just beneath the surface of our society. Scenes of the very people who were the receivers of freedom gained from the struggle, protesting violently against poor governance and service delivery are again common sights on the evening news. Violence between police forces and ordinary citizens are again seen.
Nineteen years of freedom and democracy and still we hear apartheid being blamed for injustices prevalent in our country.
Yes,we are the Rainbow Nation. Are we?
Why do I see only a fragmented rainbow with darkness, anger and fear fragmenting and driving the different colours of the rainbow apart.
No the Rainbow Nation is not a shining rainbow, shimmering in the African sun.
The Rivonia trial unmasked the struggle for freedom and the onset of an even greater struggle, leading up to 1994.
What event or who will unmask the Rainbow Nation, the inequalities, the corruption, the poor governance and service delivery?
In the meantime ordinary lives are lived, young people marry, babies are born, the old pass away. Now is the time for all South Africans no matter colour, race or culture to stand together. Let us make the time and effort to stretch out a hand of friendship to a family or individuals of another race. Let us pray for our government and the people of this country.
Maybe with God’s help we can still become a true Rainbow Nation.