The Post-apartheid Dilemma

War and peace. There are blurred lines in the realities of both. A separation anxiety as the paradigm shifts from the air that a sniper wears on his face (real life, entertainment for the masses or the propaganda machine you decide), to the blueprint of an assassination in a driveway (Chris Hani lying in a pool of his own blood).

You know that we cannot eat stones but we can burn, butcher, necklace, murder, forcibly remove and displace entire families, races of different faiths in the name of apartheid. Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and Chris Hani instruments of change, war, tolerance or peace. The Romantics got it right before anyone else did. Truth is beauty. The truth is South Africa is not cool anymore.

Youth. Murder (Biko). Slavery. Freedom. We are all creatures of ignorance at the end of the day. The natural order of the hierarchy of life states that we are creatures. Creatures of habit whether it is normal (following the status quo and all of that jazz). Creatures of marching orders and almost sanitary routine. Creatures of the abnormal. Our leaders are coldly obliterating the past. It is impossible to destroy nations, tribes, individuals without their permission. Many lessons learned from the past come to life like the connect the dots game of a child in a museum. We are swift to forget history. Bury the past like yesterday’s newspaper, our infirm and elderly in nursing homes.

Except now everything is digital even murder. There is a record for everything under the sun from the moon and back whether we like it or not. The image that I have of the future is that it is very bleak. It is darkness visible. The black dog of depression will hang us all in the end. Considering the life we live, the values we teach our children, what we believe in everything is a movement for change and every pause between words is a revolutionary act. The ‘struggle’ was like a painful mental illness. The liberation in retrospect was either the exit from our slavery ushering us into a novel, brave, bold and brilliant world or a mass hallucination. The political climate in post-apartheid South Africa has gone as far as corrupting liberty.

Where does South Africa find herself now in the post-apartheid dilemma? Is this country still a believer in the country of blood, milk and honey, does she seek perfection in the reports of minorities, the land of thirst, of afro and political activists who were active in ‘the struggle’ what happened to their children, their wives and their husbands? There are no longer straitjackets and cold showers in the lunatic asylum. Banging their heads against the walls. Banging, banging and banging away like an empty drum. Every generation wants to change the world. There must be unification of some kind. Students brought together by protest marches.

If you are looking for intelligent life out there in the political world perhaps, the only place you will find it is on campuses or in the letters to the editor or social media. Films and the media distort everything. People think that liberation is a beautiful thing that they are witnessing. That there is a power in coming so close to a theory that resonates with their entire being, their existence, their identity and their ego. Well, the part of the ego that they are most self-conscious of anyway. You can see the ugly side of humanity and decide that it is either your choice to look upon it and act or look away or do nothing in the face of saving your own grace and mercy. Do we leave the state of the nation in the hands of mob justice?

Yes, the ugliness of humanity can destroy you, it can lead to your destruction, you can sabotage others unknowingly or self-sabotage yourself and in the end, you will learn to secretly despise yourself and despise others at the same time. People never talk about what comes with freedom. The price of freedom. The lives that were lost in the process of its beautiful acquisition. They do not seem to realise that in the wrong hands it was a commodity for generations. People were lynched for it. They were raped for it. Nasty things (instead people will say let us sign papers and treaties and draw up constitutions). The bits and pieces of history become the literally and figuratively the past. Change yourself and you will change the past’s ‘yolk of blood’.

As George Orwell said, it is not easy to become sane. For South Africa, perhaps it will take as many lifetimes as we have tried to put between the present and the Dutch East India Company. There are many minds if you take a good look. Eventually in the same way the measure of loss and grief does, karma will catch up with all of us. Post-apartheid South Africa is not more enlightened than her sister apartheid South Africa. You may know nothing but tell me what you feel when you think, see, act, respond and sense. What corresponds with thought, sight, action, response and your intuition? (The warrior plunders on) racism is especially a majority shareholder at all levels. We forget that it is a privilege to live in a post-apartheid South Africa.

Abigail George
Abigail George
Abigail George is a researcher and historian. Follow her on Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram @abigailgeorgepoet.