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“He sits at his table long as a fable planning a banquet of death too sharp are his claws too aglow are his eyes Putin of the great war cry dragging his carcass of history.”

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Home » Country in Focus, Features, Independence Issue

Country in Focus the Independence Issue: To Live and Dwell with Nostalgic Notions of South Africa

Submitted by on February 6, 2011 – 12:55 pmNo Comment

Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background.

“The Call” was the national anthem and the voice of the orange, white and blue the colours of the oppressive regime that was South Africa. The masses beaten into submission by the nightstick known as apartheid.

I was very young in the 1980s when I saw the photographs in the papers showing protesters in the streets of Cape Town being pushed back with water cannons, rubber bullets. The Afrikaner and his regime: their distorted dream of “Separate but equal”, indeed, for whom?

I was younger when my parents told me about the exile of Nelson Mandela on Robben Island, the great freedom fighter Steve Biko and how he was beaten to death by the security forces.

My family was involved in the struggle, my dad protesting against apartheid as a student at the University of Cape Town, my aunt a part of the Black Sash, a cousin who wrote for the Rand Daily Mail newspaper, another cousin put in prison because of his contacts within the ANC (African National Congress).

I was older when the independence for all South Africans was upon us, the Yes and No vote, Mandela’s walk to freedom. The glory days when South Africans were finally equal under Madiba’s, Mandela, watchful eye and strong words.

I was older when Mmbeki took the throne, and ushered in the age of ANC corruption, when the freedom fighters’ blood, sweat and toil was just a legacy that he held onto to become another incompetent African leader.

My views on systems became that there are none that work, punk rock lyrics, Anarchist writers, Kropotkin, Chomsky, Orwell. The hope lay in people not political systems and words were the most powerful weapons of mass destruction.

It was with a lump in my throat that I boarded the plane at Cape Town International airport and flew to London 11 years ago, swapping the sun and sea for concrete and rain. The struggle to adapt to my new home the fighting of the pull to go back, adjust, fit in. Forget, forget, replace all that you know but always keep the warm glow of Africa in your heart that one place that they can never get to. The love of the land, the people, the air.

Yet the journey created the man, the encounters, the strength, the experiences, the words. Other jewels have been discovered along the way and the peeling back of the grey curtain exposed the rich layers in the city of London: the culture, the history, the endlessness of every day with still so much left to do at the end of them. We are all a part of our environment I have two homes now: one where I live and the other where I dwell.

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