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A Painless Past, A Confusing Present

September 10th, 2009 26 comments

n7275My earliest memories of political happenings are filled with abject terror. “The Communists are coming!” the adults screamed. Who these Communists were, and why exactly we needed to fear them was a mystery to me. But I was terrified nonetheless. I remember a couple of friends and I built a shack in a nearby forest and hoarding bread crusts, biltong and peanuts for weeks. We eventually grew bored of waiting for the Communists, and scoffed our provisions.

Sixteen years and a bit of education later, those years seem so preposterous. The feared Communists, for whom we waited in vain, were the African National Congress. They were making door-to-door visits in our area, which was an IFP bastion, and so in an effort to secure our votes, the IFP ran a very successful propaganda campaign against the ANC. So successful was their propaganda, that they have never lost the majority vote in that part of KZN.

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Something To Swear By

August 18th, 2009 19 comments

teacherThe lead singer of a very famous German heavy metal band called Rammstein once said, “French may be the language of love, but German is the language of anger.” I know what he means. Some languages slide easier off the tongue when spoken under extreme strain.

Let me start off by setting the record straight. My exposure to Afrikaans was very short, yet extremely odd. The government, in all its wisdom, decided that teaching Afrikaans to black children was counter-productive or against the spirit of the National Democratic Revolution or something. They gave some oily reason, and just like that, I stopped learning die taal in Grade 7. But I remember very well the few years of exposure that I had.

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Categories: Afrikaans Tags: , ,

Citizen Of A Bygone Era

July 30th, 2009 29 comments

gardenrouteAlmost everything in this country is defined according to what happened prior to 1994. The big news at the moment is transformation in the judiciary. Candidates to the highest bench in the country are being screened according to what they did prior to 1994. Affirmative action, Black Economic Empowerment, poverty, education and many other issues that are a staple for South African conversation are about pre-1994 events.

I was born in 1988. I was not even two years of when Mandela walked out of prison. I have no recollection of the CODESA negotiations, nor the riots of 1993, nor even of the 1994 elections. For me, that pivotal year was only so in the sense that it was my first year at school. The earliest recollection of a major event that I have is that of the death of Princess Diana. I have no familiarity with the events that continue to define us as a country. And yes – I too have been guilty of apathy when it comes to our history and heritage, like so many of my generation.

At the same time, the sense of belonging to South Africa is very strong. I sing as loudly as anyone when the national anthem is sung, and my chest swells with as much pride as anybody’s when the Springbokke, Proteas and Bafana Bafana are victorious in sport. I engage in raucous debates with foreigners about the virtues of South Africa. I look down upon at Chinese products, and beam happily when biltong is served. But is that what being South African is all about?

bafanaThe truth is, I have yet to fully appreciate what being a citizen of this amazing country means. I have only recently been introduced to the writings of South Africans, having grown up on a stiff diet of British literature. South African film is another aspect that I have only recently encountered. I have never been to places like Limpopo Province and the Garden Route. There is still so much to see, hear and talk about! I am young and in love with this land! To those who have gone before me, teach me what it is to be a South African. Give me that sense of familiarity and belonging. Tell me what happened in Soweto, Sharpeville and all the other townships where blood was spilled in the name of freedom. Cry as you recount the horrors of political imprisonment. Let us laugh together as you describe your first pair of school shoes. Break open that six-pack and remind me of how we won the 1995 rugby world cup. Describe for me the back breaking labours that your fathers faced as they crossed the mighty Drakensberg in ox wagons. Paint for me a picture of old Johannesburg – I want to feel the excitement of that place, when it was still a true mining town. Teach me how to make pap en vleis. What goes into a potjiekos, I want to know?! How does one sing the praises of mighty Zulu kings of yore? I want to know all these things. It is no longer enough for me to be a citizen of a bygone era.

I want to know and fully belong to this country.

Afrigator