21 March 2017
It’s Human Rights Day today in South Africa - a public holiday. This is the day when the 1976 Sowetan Sharpeville massacre is remembered, though it happened in June. 69 Black school children were killed by White policemen who open fired on them. But, as with most all historical events everywhere, there’s a high probability of distortion of figures here as some sites say the true number is as high as 300 killed, with many hundreds injured. The kids were peacefully protesting against apartheid pass laws.
The day has been meme-or-ized both here and across the world through this one dominating image.
A little background about the day:
Michael Trapido remembers this day in his post on Thought Leader titled Sharpeville Redux and a Bit More:
On that fateful day a group of between 5 000 and 7 000 people converged on the local police station in the township of Sharpeville, offering themselves up for arrest for not carrying their pass books.
As the large crowd gathered the atmosphere was peaceful and festive with less than 20 police officers in the station at the start of the protest. Police and military tried using low-flying jet fighters in an attempt disperse the crowd without success.
As a result the police set up Saracen armoured vehicles in a line facing the protesters and, at 13:15, incredibly, opened fire on the crowd.
The official casualties were 69 people killed, including 8 women and 10 children, with more than 180 injured.
To date the worst case of police insanity in the history of this country.
As a result there followed a spontaneous uprising among black South Africans with demonstrations, protest marches, strikes, and riots taking place throughout the country.
This led to the government declaring a state of emergency on March 30 1960, which saw more than 18 000 people detained.
But a couple of decades on and most of the country’s middle class could care less about remembering the Sharpeville Massacre or any of the other hundred of thousands lives lost to apartheid. While the impoverished are too busy trying to survive the ganglands of the largely-unemployed and heavily-addicted majority of the shanty towns.
Then there’s a relative handful who have sometimes painfully-personal associations with the day or the days that followed/proceeded it – in the form of some apartheid atrocity or another perpetuated against them.
That’s apparently what we’re celebrating – our so-called freedom from it!
But it's all double speaks as the Truth, of course, is we’re far from free or healed from the past as a nation.
Every single day should be human rights day - in every country across the globe, including this one. The rights of all humans everywhere to be free; free of all self-imposed and externally-imposed limitations.
Free from all borders, both within us and without.
Freedom is the objective of our lives in this duality, after all. It’s what God put us on the planet to experience and what we came for. Including TO CELEBRATE THAT FREEDOM WITH OTHERS when we arrive there. For it is indeed our freedom in God that we are celebrating, first and foremost, if we are privileged enough to experience this. For Him, with Him, fulfilling His life within us.
The more free we become – as individuals, as a collective, a society, a nation and then the world, the more we will want to share that with those who are still enslaved.
For me, somehow there is no freedom for any of us without an equal amount of dignity flowing freely.
Dignity: “The state or quality of being worthy of honour or respect”.
That is, the dignity we first give ourselves and then the dignity that naturally flows from us that we can offer others.
It’s this quality of dignity that’s been impulsing me recently on my self-loving quest.
While it is particularly pertinent on this Human Rights Day here today, it’s by no means for the people of this country alone. But for all people everywhere to feel and experience dignity, to give and receive it.
Giving dignity to others is one very practical way of demonstrating honour of and for another human being. It costs absolutely nothing. Here in South Africa, with our past system of apartheid, still very much alive and well (albeit covertly) in 2017 for the majority, it’s also a way of demonstrably making reparations.
I do not in any way here mean to offer dignity as a response to those who feel guilt, to be clear. But as a means of genuinely trying to establish unity across racial lines, as this continues to be SA’s major issue, resulting in a very fractured society.
Because of seemingly-immovable racial stereotypes here, dignity could be offered as an incredibly potent tool for the healing of an entire nation.
Imagine if we devoted a day to White people giving up their seats on the train for Black people – an elderly person or a young mother with children or a pregnant woman. Or how about learning one or two phrases in the regional African tongue and using it for a day in all interactions with those of another race. Or allowing a Black person to go ahead of us in a bank or supermarket queue. Or offering to help an elderly person across the street who’s struggling.
These are just a few of the acts that can help the victimized, downtrodden and hurt ‘others’ to feel that dignity. If we devoted just a day of doing this a few times per year it thrills me to think of the walls of mistrust we could penetrate in others in genuinely extending our hand.
I mention these specifically in relation to SA, as such acts initiated by Whites towards Blacks are still rare.
As evidence, this is one of the few countries in the world where people from all different races/cultures are stupefied when an adult White person speaks an African language fluently or takes on African culture and behaviour accordingly.
Like a 2 year old White boy who’s with his Xhosa nanny all day and who shocks people because its so ‘not done’ here. While White adults who adopt the African culture or language as their own are generally looked upon by most Whites with disgust or have to suffer condescending remarks. By contrast, they are admired and respected by Black people.
However, when the tables are turned and Black people speak English – which they’re forced to for employment – it’s completely unremarkable. Or if a Black child speak numerous languages, for that matter, not an eyelid is batted. Just to give you an idea of how entrenched racism still is here.
This is why so many foreigners can’t understand why the little White boy on Youtube who speaks Xhosa gets so much positive attention because we’re all African, after all, they say.
The racism mind control programming here has been incredibly successful over the centuries, but more so for the past six decades. It’s all part of our uniquely socio-political South African landscape.
However, I guess until a problem is acknowledged, there can be no offering up of dignity or setting days aside for such.
Most Whites here don’t believe racism exists and constantly nag Black people to ‘move on’ or ‘stop opening old wounds’. That's largely a guilt response for not wishing to acknowledge all the many ways in which racism still plays out daily in the majority’s lives and experiences.
The same can be said of any country, culture, religion or political system that has and practices oppression of one type or another against its citizens. Whether this is misogyny, ageism or religious or social prejudice.
The thing is, we won’t ever recognize it as a necessary ingredient to the raising up of ourSelves in God and God in ourSelves if we still insist on being stuck in our victimhood. As a collective or as individuals. This has been our downfall.
Yet, we make choices and decisions individually that then go on to affect the whole. And I have made the choice – and continue to do so daily – that God puts me in the right place to connect with whomsoever I can serve dignity to. It may be a drop in the ocean, but every drop creates a trickle, a stream and then eventually...join with a much larger body of water.
In a world filled with dignity there can be no seething undercurrents of condescension toward others, for that will automatically be a redirect as to where we feel that way about ourselves.