”Apartheid Apartheid is a dangerous disease,
Stop it now, end it now Botha! Botha….!
These words remain etched in my memory, it’ s a song we sang each day during assembly in the late 80s at our primary school. We were just some six-year-old kids from Mutiunokura school in the heart of the sprawling Mufakose suburb. We didn’t know what it meant, but we knew we had to know the words and sing it with so much conviction, struggling to pronounce the words but we always sang it proudly, out and loud..
A few years later South Africa gained was to gain independence, the exuberant atmosphere made it clear for us to understand why for such a long time we had to sing the two animals, apartheid and Botha back to hell. Now more than before, I know I didn’t need to be in south Africa or to be South African to know that our tiny shrills for a free South Africa were not in vain.
But today my heart bleeds, hearing, reading and seeing the gruesome images of my fellow country men being massacred with impunity by hooligans in Xenophobic and Afrophobic attacks happening in South Africa.
South Africa, Durban city centre, April 14 2015 pic by Tina
The desperation, fear and confusion on the faces on the many Africans living in South Africa brings tears to my eyes. I can relate because i know the pain of having to leave your own country and resettle in another land. People migrate in pursuit of many things whatever reasons no one deserves to be abhorred for their decision, after all we are all foreigners on this planet.The whole concept of boundaries, passports, IDs is a legacy of the chains of colonialism which thrives on divide and conquer and sadly we still embrace this.
My friend Tina who lives in Durban left Zimbabwe a year ago following continued harassment by her family and society as a lesbian woman. She started from scratch in South Africa where she knew no one and finally managed to secure a job and a partner. A few weeks ago we had a chat when she was telling me how she was feeling at home in her new environment.
Yesterday she sent a voice message she was feeling hopeless, a violent mob was outside her building at work baying for the blood of all ‘foreign nationals’. She managed to take pictures and videos from a small room where a Samaritan had huddled about 30 people for protection. Something inside of me collapsed. There was terror and trauma in her shaky voice as she begged for our prayers.I thought of the continuum of violence and how LGBTI people are often easy target.
Durban South Africa 14 April 2015, pic by Tina
As i sat feeling helpless i just wondered what ever happened to Ubuntu, to peace, to love to Pan Africanism. Why is the world silent about such heinous acts. National leaders have remained mum. Human rights defenders and LGBTI rights activists in and outside South Africa we have all been conspicuous by our silence , whilst a few rapacious hooligans decimate our kith and kin.
Let us be reminded of Haile Selassie’s word that ‘Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.’