For some reason some members of our society loose interest when one starts talking about how they were persecuted by the system of shame, I don’t know maybe it’s because their forefathers were directly involved on that system or they simple think you are playing the race card again. Mind you whenever there are commemorations to remember our fallen heroes, they don’t attend such events, in-fact they would even change the TV channel broadcasting such event and simply choose to call the day “braai day” !! anyways let me briefly narrate this story without delving into too much detail.
The Sharpeville Massacre happened 55 years ago today (21 March 1960), at the police station in the township of Sharpeville not far from where I’m sitting writing this blog now. South African police opened fire on the crowd of about 5000 people who were peacefully demonstrating against the carrying of dumbpasses (pass books) killing 69 people. The government relaxed the pass laws after that.
Change of heart
Being influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, Mandela thought he could fight the apartheid system through peaceful means, through negotiations, through reasoning with the apartheid principals, but the Sharpeville Massacre was a watershed moment and a turning point in his life. He was forced to go underground, take up arms and fight on.
Last year I was based in an archive institution putting Johannesburg into Wikipedia. Believe it or not I know the history of almost all the buildings of Johannesburg including who commissioned their construction, who designed them, the original plans, maps and I’ve also seen records of how much each labourer was paid.
But I still don’t know on top of which building this picture was taken. I know it’s inside Johannesburg. I understand it was the last day Mandela left the country to exile.
Ruth Mompati, who is a very well respected politician today was Mandela’s secretary at the time. I think she must know where this picture was taken. In-fact I understand she was the only person (besides Tambo) who knew that Mandela was leaving South Africa that evening.
A week after this picture was taken Mandela appeared on a BBC interview declaring war against the apartheid state. He was officially a terrorist to my girlfriends parents and a freedom fighter my parents.