What is democracy?
Democracy (in simple terms) means majority rule.
If the majority is homophobic, a true democracy is bound to legislate hatred towards gays and lesbians. If the majority is atheist and also happens to hate religion, a true democracy would vote to outlaw religion. If the majority is racist and anti semitic, a true democracy is bound to legislate against the hatred of different races. If the majority are xenophobic, a true democracy is bound to legislate against the foreigners.
Is there a true democracy?
I’m a seldom overseas traveler. I’m stunned by the stories here. I’ve bumped into this site (lockedup) while looking up for Minister Siyabonga Cwele which eventually led me to his wife’s arrest and I found myself exploring South Africans in foreign jails. It is heart-wrenching to read these stories and eye opening at the same time. In particular because when they give a description of how a drug mule looks like, they simple say ” Just stand in front of the mirror, that’s how a drug mule look like”!
I’ll make do visit South Africans in prisons whenever I go abroad, just to give them emotional and moral support and maybe some financial support as well. Thanks for starting the site, and warning us of the realities out there Belinda West!
Speaking of which!
I lived in Indonesia for a while. The first thing you are constantly reminded of when you’re reading the brochures to go there is “Don’t get yourself in trouble by doing drugs” and when you go for your visa at the embassy they will dedicate some 2 to 3 minutes to warn you about doing drugs in Indonesia!..When you are about to land, the airline hostess will clearly announce in English and Bahasa that drugs have a heavy penalty in this country. When you step in the airport, the first thing you see is a big sign, I remember it well it was all in red and the words ” PENALTY FOR DOING DRUGS IS DEATH SENTENCE” were in white and I thought to myself, these people mean business about this drugs thing! Only to see on the news the very next evening that 4 Nigerians and an Australian were caught with drugs at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport, the very spot I passed through, and they hastily received the death sentence in a much publicized case. I thought to myself if only in South Africa we were this hard on drugs if only!
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.
(hash tag the colour of the skin of my girlfriend is an opposite to that of mine)
I love you South Afrika.