Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Black Tuesday

If you come here often, you'll know this blog is a curated collection of ideas, inspirations, aspirations, thoughts, celebrations, and  sometimes a reminder of how I wish to live, and reflections of how we live now. So between Meat-free Mondays & Friday Flowers, there is a mish-mash of photography, art, inspired design and decor, coveted products, a celebration of creativity in all forms, some personal musings and the like. 

It is not a political blog.
Yet today feels like a monumental day for South Africa, my homeland, and it feels so important to capture my feelings, and the mood of the day. (I should disclose that I write this while I live abroad - yet not as an emigrant - since although it is a long time since I lived fully in SA, I keep a foot firmly planted there thanks to inexpensive air travel, a mindset that is entrepreneurially South African, a heart that beats to the rhythm of pata pata, and a soul that recognizes Africa as home. I am an African.)

As South Africans, we suffered so much for so long. 

I know I am lucky - I was only a child, and my suffering was only one of ignorance.

I can't begin to explain how it felt when, as an adult, I visited the Apartheid museum and I got to the section that represented life in the 80's. Suddenly, the exhibits weren't so much 'history' as a physical representation of some of my childhood memories. Tanks in the streets. Protests. Newspaper headlines of 'us vs. them' and impending anarchy. It was scary. And overwhelming. Apartheid wasn't what happened in townships or just the big cities. It was how we had lived. 

I had no idea at the time what was really going on.
I was just a child.
But no-one did. 
Even the grown ups. 
The press and the laws under which they operated made sure of that. 

The whole museum is incredible and so cleverly planned. There is much to discuss and it is an important place to visit - but what remains burned in my brain is the wall with a list of all of the Apartheid laws: 

The government of the day had to keep making laws to keep people of different colour apart - because without 'laws' to do that, people naturally came together - to work, to love, to live. 

A sign next to the wall explains that as much as those laws were symbols of oppression, they were also symbols of people's ability to circumvent laws - so forcing the creation of new ones. It is also a symbol of hope.

Today, the current South African government approved a 'secrecy bill' - despite internal and international opposition. It will limit what the press can report on, and threatens jail terms for whistle blowers that exceed those for crimes such as murder and rape. It is a sad day for South Africa, although there are still challenges ahead before it becomes law. 

They are misguided. 
The truth will out. 
The old government showed how you cannot contain truth, regardless of the number of laws you make, and the punishments you hand out.

And that was before blogs, twitter, social media and the interwebs. 

What a waste of time. 
We just have to hope that lives are not wasted again too.



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