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.

Maya Angelou’s poem for Madiba

His day is done.
Is done.
The news came on the wings of a wind, reluctant to carry its burden.
Nelson Mandela’s day is done.
The news, expected and still unwelcome, reached us in the United States, and suddenly our world became somber.
Our skies were leadened.

His day is done.
We see you, South African people standing speechless at the slamming of that final door through which no traveler returns.
Our spirits reach out to you Bantu, Zulu, Xhosa, Boer.
We think of you and your son of Africa, your father, your one more wonder of the world.

We send our souls to you as you reflect upon your David armed with a mere stone, facing down the mighty Goliath.
Your man of strength, Gideon, emerging triumphant.
Although born into the brutal embrace of Apartheid, scarred by the savage atmosphere of racism, unjustly imprisoned in the bloody maws of South African dungeons.
Would the man survive? Could the man survive?
His answer strengthened men and women around the world.
In the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas, on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, in Chicago’s Loop, in New Orleans Mardi Gras, in New York City’s Times Square, we watched as the hope of Africa sprang through the prison’s doors.
His stupendous heart intact, his gargantuan will hale and hearty.

He had not been crippled by brutes, nor was his passion for the rights of human beings diminished by twenty-seven years of imprisonment.
Even here in America, we felt the cool, refreshing breeze of freedom.
When Nelson Mandela took the seat of Presidency in his country where formerly he was not even allowed to vote we were enlarged by tears of pride, as we saw Nelson Mandela’s former prison guards invited, courteously, by him to watch from the front rows his inauguration.
We saw him accept the world’s award in Norway with the grace and gratitude of the Solon in Ancient Roman Courts, and the confidence of African Chiefs from ancient royal stools.

No sun outlasts its sunset, but it will rise again and bring the dawn.

Yes, Mandela’s day is done, yet we, his inheritors, will open the gates wider for reconciliation, and we will respond generously to the cries of Blacks and Whites, Asians, Hispanics, the poor who live piteously on the floor of our planet.
He has offered us understanding.
We will not withhold forgiveness even from those who do not ask.
Nelson Mandela’s day is done, we confess it in tearful voices, yet we lift our own to say thank you.

Thank you our Gideon, thank you our David, our great courageous man.

We will not forget you, we will not dishonour you,
we will remember and be glad that you lived among us,
that you taught us,
and that you loved us all.

While on missions trip to Uitenhage, Port Elizebeth we ran a holiday club for the one local charities supported children of +- 200 in a local township. (informal settlement) Sadly this picture was one that impacted me most about the trip which when asked what happened a young boy told me that the elder of the two in the picture’s brother was killed by a white policeman and he was pulling his young friend away because it was not safe to trust the white people. In my mind, this is what is really happening in South Africa. Not racism, but incident based hate for your fellow man. We all seem to have our demons. 

South Africa should learn the lesson of history. It is impossible for a society to continue tearing itself apart in endless unresolved disputes because there is a power stalemate deep within the structures of society. Capitalist power is deeply entrenched and will defend itself vigorously; trade union power is also well established in key industries and workers will fight to improve their lot. Most important, the masses want a better life — sick of the inequalities between rich and poor, disgusted by the corruption, opulence and public display of luxury of the old and newly rich, deeply frustrated by life in shacks at the mercy of the weather, and on and on. Our wonderful country is in pain.

It concerns me that it has become such an issue for people that Nelson Mandela is dying. The man is 94, he has lived a long and brilliant life. He does not deserve to become an insect under the microscope if this it is for him. He is not the only thing in this world maintaining the post apartheid South Africa. When he passes the world will not revert into what it was because we have been educated to move forward with ourselves as the human race. He helped educate us much in way other great men have, but also our parents and other elders. One man does not maintain an ideal. 

White South Africa Is Small

A piece of narrative social commentary for Matador Network.

I MUST be giving off bad vibes, because I’m on a Paris to Durban flight full of white Southern Africans and it still takes the woman sitting next to me five gin and tonics before she feels bold enough to talk to me.

Read more HERE.

Photo by Werner Vermaak