apartheid government


February 11th 1990: Mandela released

On this day in 1990, the South African activist and politician Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Mandela had spent twenty-seven years in prison for his role as an anti-apartheid activist at the head of Umkhonto we Sizwe, which translates as Spear of the Nation. The controversial organisation served as the militant armed wing of the African National Congress political party, born out of a frustration among anti-apartheid activists that their non-violence was met with brutality by white authorities against black citizens. Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to life in prison, during which time he was largely condemned as a terrorist by Western nations. He served most of his twenty-seven years on Robben Island, then Victor Verster Prison near Cape Town, and during his imprisonment his reputation grew as a significant black leader both in South Africa and internationally. Mandela was finally freed after the ban on the ANC was lifted by the apartheid government. Upon his release, Mandela led the ANC in the successful negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to end apartheid, and was overwhelmingly elected President of South Africa in the first multi-racial elections in 1994, serving until 1999. In 2013, Nelson Mandela died aged 95 and has been mourned around the world as a hero who fought for freedom in South Africa, and as a symbol of resistance for oppressed peoples everywhere.

“Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way.”

“The Emancipation of women is not an act of charity, the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude. The liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution, a guarantee of its continuity and a precondition for its victory.” Speech delivered in 1973 by Samora Machel, revolutionary leader of FRELIMO and first Head of State of Mozambique. He was killed 29 years ago today in a plane crash arranged by the apartheid South African government. A Luta Continua!


Christine Meisner
The Freedom of, 2015–2016
installation of drawings and video

In 1954 the radio show “Music USA—The Jazz Hour” went on air for the first time. Broadcast by Voice of America radio station and produced by the U.S. Office of War Information, the show played a major role in the global expansion and reception of jazz. Promoted as the “voice of freedom” the U.S. government regarded it as an important means to reach out to the world and spread Western ideas. However, communist and socialist governments and apartheid regimes banned the program so the show could only be received illegally. While radio listeners worldwide felt the music was “played by someone, who is free,” African-American jazz musicians experienced racism and discrimination on a daily basis in their homeland.

The Freedom of sets out as an investigation into a lost chapter in radio history. Broadcasts can be recorded, stored and thus memorized but reception can’t. Sounds transmitted over the air seem to vanish into the ears and minds of unknown listeners. There is no ground to dig in, no place to examine, no object to be grasped—just ideologies, misconceptions, and promises traversing the intangible landscape of the ether. The work evokes a space in which all the properties of sound and its reception become visible. A battlefield where the impulse to “extend the area of freedom” and persistent efforts to disturb that sense of mission crisscross. It contemplates how freedom comes into being by questioning its means and meanings.

The installation represents the last part of a trilogy preceded by the drawing series Wade in the Water (2010) and the video Disquieting Nature (2012). In her long-term project the German artist Christine Meisner confronts the ideological American landscape with its notion of liberty.


March 21st 1960: Sharpeville massacre

On this day in 1960, police opened fire on peaceful anti-apartheid protestors in the South African township of Sharpeville, killing 69. The over 5,000 strong crowd gathered at Sharpeville police station to protest the discriminatory pass laws, which they claimed were designed to limit their movement in designated white only areas. The laws required all black men and women to carry reference books with their name, tax code and employer details; those found without their book could be arrested and detained. The protest encouraged black South Africans to deliberately leave their pass books at home and present themselves at police stations for arrest, which would crowd prisons and lead to a labour shortage. Despite the protestors’ peaceful and non-violent intentions, police opened fire on the crowd. By the day’s end, 69 people were dead and 180 were wounded. A further 77 were arrested and questioned, though no police officer involved in the massacre was ever convicted as the government relieved all officials of any responsibility. The apartheid government responded to the massacre by banning public meetings, outlawing the African National Congress (ANC) and declaring a state of emergency. The incident convinced anti-apartheid leader and ANC member Nelson Mandela to abandon non-violence and organise paramilitary groups to fight the racist system of apartheid. In 1996, 36 years later, then President Mandela chose Sharpeville as the site at which he signed into law the country’s new post-apartheid constitution.

“People were running in all directions, some couldn’t believe that people had been shot, they thought they had heard firecrackers. Only when they saw the blood and dead people, did they see that the police meant business”
- Tom Petrus, eyewitness to the Sharpeville massacre


Little Simz pays homage to the #FeesMustFall protest movement in South Africa

London rapper Little Simz flew halfway across the world to Cape Town, for this Jeremy Cole-directed video for single Gratitude. It features footage shot during this year’s #FeesMustFall movement, which saw a South African university students protest the raising of tuition fees at sit-ins and rallies that often involved violent clashes with armed police.

Simz raps her verses over a melancholy, thudding beat and an indie-indebted guitar line while London-based band the Hics take over singing duties in the chorus.

For context, the Guardian recently ran a long-form story looking at #FeesMustFall and the origins of educational disparity in a country still divided by the racist policies entrenched by the former apartheid government. 

Simz’ debut album, A Curious Tale of Trials and Persons, is out now on AGE 101.


September 12th 1977: Steve Biko dies

On this day in 1977, South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Bantu Biko died aged 30 while in police custody in Pretoria. Biko founded the Black Consciousness Movement and coined the famous phrase “black is beautiful”. He had been a target long before his arrest on August 18th 1977, having been censored and ‘banned’ by the apartheid government in 1973 and had his movement in his country restricted. Upon his arrest, Biko was brutally tortured and beaten during police interrogations which lasted almost 24 hours, eventually dying from head injuries on September 12th. The police claimed he died due to a hunger strike, but it was clear his death was caused by police violence after his arrest. The authorities’ flimsy protestations of innocence fooled very few, and the truth about Biko’s death caused widespread outrage. His killers were never bought to justice, but due to his high-profile Biko’s family were able to secure financial compensation from the South African government. He was a hero of black South Africans for his activism, but since his tragic death Steve Biko has also become a martyr for his cause and a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement.

“They had to kill him to prolong the life of apartheid”
- Nelson Mandela on Steve Biko

You were born in Pretoria, South Africa. Your real name is Alice Kruger. Your birth parents were anti-apartheid activists. The government had them killed in your own home. You were forced into a secret academy; an orphanage where they trained innocent children to become deadly soldiers, operatives for the state. Of course, you excelled. But when apartheid fell, so did the academy. I was one of the American soldiers who liberated you. Most of the children were placed in foster care, but you and your brother… you were too dangerous, too special. No one could handle you. So I chose to raise you myself. You wanted new names, to distance yourself from a past you wanted to forget. We chose them together. Roman… and Remi.

Whenever I tell people that my family is from South Africa, one of the first questions I’m asked is usually: “Wait, there are Jews in Africa???.” After biting back my knee jerk retort of “WHERE THE FUCK DO YOU THINK EGYPT IS?,” I  say: “Yes, my parents, grandparents, and some of my great grandparents were born in South Africa.”

Jewish immigration to South Africa is a little known chapter in the larger story of the Jewish Diaspora.  Some of South Africa’s Jewish population came when the country was first being colonized from communities in the Netherlands and Portugal, but most Jews came to South Africa in the late 19th and early 20th centuries from communities in Eastern Europe.  99% of Eastern European Jewish immigrants moved West to America and the United Kingdom.  I am descended from the 1% that moved south to Africa.  My family came as refugees.  My mother’s ancestors uprooted their family from Lithuania to save the boys from service in the Tsar’s armies and certain death.  My father’s ancestors came from Russia a decade later, fleeing persecution under the Bolsheviks.  Our story is not uncommon.

The South African Jewish community was, like the rest of Apartheid South Africa, segregated and isolated.  The Apartheid government was virulently anti-Semitic and were Nazi sympathizers.  When my father did his two years mandatory service in the South African military, his dog tags were stamped “JEW/JOOD.”  He was the captain of the gymnastics team and still the coach called him their “little lucky Jew.”  Drill sergeants referred to him as “fokken jood.”  My grandfather had such a difficult time getting work as a Jewish doctor, he briefly moved to London (he moved back because it was even worse there).  So, Jewish South Africans closed ranks and protected their own. As usual, the new world didn’t promise much more than the old. 

The Apartheid government did not actively persecute Jewish people in South Africa. They were too busy murdering Black Africans and they needed everyone who was at least vaguely white passing on their side.  Some Jewish South Africans bought this as actual acceptance. Others saw through it.  Many Jewish people acquitted themselves with honor in the struggle to end Apartheid. ALL of Nelson Mandela’s defense lawyers were Jewish, with the exception of Bram Fisher.  ALL of the white/white passing Rivionia Treason Trialists were Jewish: Harold Wolpe, Joe Slovo, Denis Goldberg, Lionel Bernstein, Bob Hepple, and Arthur Goldreich.  Goldreich and his family hid Nelson Mandela and many others on his farm, Lilliesleaf at grave personal risk to him and his young family.  Joe Slovo’s wife, Ruth First, was murdered by the Apartheid government’s secret police while her husband was in exile.  Harold Wolpe’s wife Ann Marie was a journalist and was badly harrassed by the police and was even briefly imprisoned. Helen Suzman was the lone voice of opposition in the Apartheid parliament, enduring unchecked sexist and anti-Semitic rhetoric on the floor of parliament.  Mannie Manim and Barney Simon created the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. For years, it was the only space in South Africa where the races could mix and make art together.  They also helped Harold Wolpe and Arthur Goldreich flee the country, disguising them in costumes borrowed from the theatre.  We could have done better, but I am exceptionally proud of those who did fight and die to end the centuries of injustice in South Africa.

The relationship between South Africa and the Jewish people is a complicated one. We came as refugees, but too many of us mimicked the colonizers.  My parents left South Africa in 1986, hoping that America would be a land of equality and justice (HA!).  My brother and I grew up hearing stories of the Jewish people who stood up and fought. They were to be our guide.  They said: “May you be like Harold and Arthur and Joe. May you be like Ruth and Helen and Ann Marie.” May we all follow their example.

White UCT students form a human shield between the police and the peaceful black student protesters. The police stopped arresting, attacking, stunning and tear gassing students as soon as the protective barrier was formed. This is white privilege in South Africa in the midst of a stand against university fees increase, a nationwide protest to emphasise that education is a basic need and not a privilege. However it is a beautiful thing to see the unity of South African students against the government, something like the stand against the apartheid government before 1994. To paraphrase the late Nelson Mandela “if the ANC (African National Congress) does to you what the apartheid government did, do to the ANC what you did to the apartheid government”. This is a revolutionary time, history is being made in South Africa and I am proud to see the strength of our youth in the midst of an injustice.

It’s sad to see organizations cheapening the idea of anti-Semitism by using it to refer to any action that criticizes Israel’s apartheid government, all while giving a free pass to anti-Semites as long as they support Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

Donald Trump’s Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, a rabid Zionist, said earlier this year that he doesn’t want his children going to school with Jewish kids.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, in response stated that they did not have any “definitive proof” that Bannon himself is an anti-Semite.

Ironically, Barack Obama’s condemnation of settlements that are illegal under international law did qualify as definitive proof of “the most anti-Semitic incident of 2016.”

In the world of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, saying “Israel should stop building illegal settlements” is anti-Semitic. But saying,“I don’t want my kids going to school with Jews,” is not definitive proof of anti-Semitism.

- Hamzah Raza

We as I See A Different You encompass ourselves with the rich history of South Africa through the cultures and documenting of our diverse nation. Our look was inspired by the Pantsula Era which originated in the townships of South Africa during the reign of the apartheid government.

The Pantsula movement which comprised of a distinct style, dress and dance, developed into a form of social commentary and expression for black South Africans and has since undergone several transformations with the country’s change in political tides.

Originally Pantsula’s wore matching outfits for performances which represented unity and self-identity amongst the young men in the group in a time of social division. We fell in love with the style and the culture which lead to us documenting ourselves as Pantsula’s of the Apartheid era during the 1950’s and 1960’s. We morphed the style in order to capture our individual expressions and personalities to match our story.

Kliptown, Soweto // 2014


Today in labor history, December 13, 1971: In South-West Africa (now Namibia), 6,000 indigenous Ovambos – required under the rule of South Africa’s apartheid government to live in tribal areas in the northern third of the country and required to have passes for movement within the country – begin a general strike to protest the contract labor system. They demanded the right to choose jobs, end contracts, bring families to work locations, a new pass system, and increased wages based on work type, not skin color.

tyrianpirate  asked:

i thought israeli was the one being bombed left and right and gaza was the one aiming at civilians? what even is the reason for all these missiles flying and people dying?

hello! what you said has some grains of truth, and overall, I will say the most accurate take on the situation imo, is to know that it isn’t black and white, and that both Israeli and Palestinian actors are making things worse. There is no “good guy” vs a “bad guy” in the Israel-Palestine conflict- various actors on both sides have been very cruel to innocent people on the other. I understand this is an extremely polarising conflct, and it is quite hard to find a somewhat balanced point in the media. So, I’ve tried my best to give a rundown of what’s happening in the ongoing violence.

1. Is Israel being attacked? 

Yes, Hamas militants have been firing rockets from Gaza. This present conflict started due to various factors- firstly, the murder of three Israeli teenagers by Palestinian extremists (it seems it wasn’t authorised by the Hamas leadership but an independent group),the retliatory murder of a Palestinian teenager, the collapse of US sponsored peace talks. But anyway, the IDF first launched an operation in response to the murders clamp down on Hamas- and Hamas fired back after an Israeli attack killed Hamas members. The situation has only continued to escalate. 

However, the reasons for the very low Israeli casualties is that:

Firstly, Hamas have less superior weapons technology because of the Gaza blockade, the fact that they’re not a professional army like the IDF, their weapons are sometimes homemade. Therefore, their rockets have far less firepower to begin with and have often malfunctioned. 

Secondly, Israel has an extremely sophisticated, top of the line missile defense system called Iron Dome, which has been very successful at shooting down most Hamas rockets. Israel definitely has 100% right to shoot down those rockets with Iron Dome because that’s within the parameters of proportional self-defense under international law. 

2. Why are so many Palestinian civilians dying? Here’s the more problematic part.

In addition to Iron Dome, which destroys rockets already fired by Hamas, Israel has been launching its own airstrikes, firing mortar shells etc at Gaza in a purported attempt to destroy Hamas weapons caches, tunnels or to kill militants. In my opinion, the amount of destruction that has resulted in Gaza is so disproportionate that it has gone beyond the boundaries of proportional self-defence, and into the realm of collective punishment- which is inhumane and illegal under international law

The crowded nature of urban warfare- Gaza is a very small and highly populated area. The international criticism against Israel is because IDF airstrikes have hit civilian targets like hospitals, UN schools, private homes (18 members of the same family were killed in one incident) and even a disabled housing complex.Israel’s justification is that Hamas has been hiding weapons amongst civilians, or that in some cases, like the Al Aqsa hospital attack, the intended target was nearby and thus the strike which killed hospital patients was said to be unintentional by the IDF. 

Yes, mistakes do often happen in warfare- sometimes wrong coordinates are given and civilians are killed by accident. But the fact is that now the death toll is 1030 Palestinians vs 45 Israelis. Of the Palestinians, MOST of the dead are civilians, not militants- and many of them are young children. Recently, doctors managed to deliver a Palestinian baby from her dead mother, who died in an Israeli airstrike. By comparison, of the Israelis, 43 of the 45 are Israeli soldiers. That is what is disturbing. “Collateral damage” should never be taken lightly- for example, when NATO staged a military intervention into then-Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War to stop the ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians by Serbian paramilitaries, American forces accidentally bombed the Chinese embassy at Belgrade, killing 3 Chinese reporters. It was a very serious matter and the US was very severely criticised by China. What is happening in Gaza is basically hundreds of these incidents.

The fact is, that if the present Israeli government cared to minimise Palestinian collateral damage, the death toll would not be this high.They certainly have the technology and the means to do so- the IDF is world-renowned for their battle prowess- in many of the previous Arab-Israeli wars, they have won battles where they were severely outnumbered. Mossad (the Israeli secret service) is also extremely well-staffed and funded. What it feels like now is watching a much stronger person continuing to not only beat up his knocked out attacker, but to attack their neighbours, who were not complicit in his actions. 

I’m critical of Israel because I feel the huge Palestinian death toll cannot simply be down to “Hamas cowardly using human shields” that ultranationalist Israelis have claimed. Even if Hamas IS using human shields, does it mean the IDF wants to stoop to their level, the level of not caring about civilian lives? For example, the Al Aqsa hospital attack, or the four Palestinian boys on a beach killed- right in front of a hotel that most of the international media were staying in. Even if Hamas HAD been hiding in the Al Aqsa hospital, the fact is that VAST MAJORITY of the people inside were doctors and innocent civilians. It is simply not right for Israel to launch attacks that it knows have a very high likelihood of killing huge numbers of civilians. 

3. The extremely damaging long-term effect of Israeli indifference to Palestinian civilian deaths- and why I feel the present Israeli government does not actually truly care about its own Israeli citizens. 

This isn’t just about compassion towards the Palestinians who are caught in the crossfire. I feel the present Israeli government is actually being selfish in that they are intentionally breeding a siege mentality among Israelis to solidify their support. Imo, a truly clear-eyed and pragmatic government that had the best interests of Israel at heart WOULD care about minimising the deaths of Palestinian civilians. 

Why? Because it’s been known for years that the indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians has been a chief recruiting tool of groups like Hamas. Terrorism is often the weapon of the weak- on an equal playing field, two armies would meet each other. In apartheid South Africa, Nelson Mandela- yes, that Nelson Mandela- became the head of “Umkhonto we Sizwe”- the armed wing of the African National Congress. They engaged in what we could call terrorism- after years of failure at having the apartheid government getting to care about the rights of black South Africans through peaceful protests, strikes or civil disobedience. Both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher considered him a terrorist. I’m definitely not saying those innocent people died were “worth” the end of apartheid, because every life lost is a tragedy, but I hope it illustrates how what one side sees as terrorists may often be seen as freedom fighters by another. As it is, Hamas instead looks to the besieged Gazans (rightly or wrongly) like the only entity that bothers to fight for their rights.

No matter how much the IDF says “Hamas are cowards hiding amongst civilians” the fact is that to the Palestinians whose children are killed, the IDF didn’t make an effort to distinguish between them- and they are morally culpable for the dead Palestinian civilians. Furthermore, the overwhelming retaliation of Israel seems disproportionate to the threat posed by Hamas (much more poorly equipped than the IDF that is very battle tested, and who receives millions if US aid every year). If they made the effort to show compassion, I am sure more Palestinians would be willing to tip-off the secret services about Hamas. Hamas would seem like a liability, Hamas’ strident anti-Israeli rhetoric would begin to seem unreasonable. But as it is, the more innocent Palestinian blood the IDF spills, the more future recruits they give to extremist groups.