A Story of Forgiveness with Bullets
A shanty town in Soweto, South Africa by Matt-80 from Wikipedia. A similar sight can be seen in Chesterville, KwaMashu, uMlazi and other townships. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
I am South African. For what it is worth, I come from one of the most diverse countries in the world, with 11 official languages and a cosmopolitan society which features the wisps of souls from every corner of the Earth.
While I have never been to places like the USA, Sweden, Kenya or Zimbabwe, I have been able to envisage each by the strength of the words and conviction shared by people I have met originating from those places. There are even more I could name, because my life has had encounters with many magical people, having kept my heart open.
But, I grew up with privileged circumstances, even if it was not my choice. In the journey of freeing my mind and learning how to understand the joy and pain of people, I saw the reality of South Africa: it is two countries in one.
Put yourself in the position of a person living inside of a township, starting from seventy years ago (or even more).
If you cannot, allow me to weave words,
inspired by what I have seen, read and heard, to guide your spirit:
The sun was not shining when the bulldozers arrived. The government of the time had decided that my family and I should be relocated, because our pigmentation did not match the standard they created of superiority. Could we help that we were given additional melanin when we were kissed by the Sun at birth? Did Lover Nature not intend for us to be diverse in our spirits as well as our appearance?
We were told we had two months, but our evacuation came within two weeks. My father’s life’s work would be demolished simply because it was decreed that this area was not for us, but for people of “higher standing”.
We were kindly forced to join the rest of “our people” because it was God’s will for people of different shades to not mix (or so we were told). The homes they built for us were only just bigger than familial tombs, and eventually there were not enough for everyone to fit into.
Thus it became common for would-be architects to design and build their own sheds, the interim sarcophagi and coffins to house their bodies. In their minds, it would be temporary until the winds of change would approach.
This false-hope only gave my neighbour’s children temporary comfort because they barely survived in that leaning shack for longer than three generations.
Declared to be animals only useful for service and abuse, our education was reduced. Since we were joined by new comrades on a weekly basis, the solution for gathering waste came in the form of shared latrines and communal toilets, if not a bucket in someone else’s back yard.
Those who could still count could only count the days of agony and pain. Many others would count their anger which held no bounds. Everyone else would be to blame for their downfall and pain, even if it did not belong to the recipient.
I had first seen the insides of a person when he was beaten and stabbed to death. Often it was because of jealousy, resentment or someone stealing someone else’s stolen merchandise.
Some managed to channel their emotions into fighting against the despots in control, their own struggle against aparthood and “the hand that feeds”. Sometimes, if a person defied the will of “the struggle”, a mob would put a tyre put around their neck, set alight for them to burn to death.
You were either a revolutionary and had to die for the cause, or a slave and die from attrition and apathy.
I remember the day my life could be saved by joining a resistance movement following the doctrines of brothers from Mother Russia and Cuba. For all the melanin they lacked, they surely made up for with munitions and studies at foreign institutions. To me and my allies, we were equipped so that we could break the chains attached to “our people”.
After years abroad, filling my head with Marxist theories and my heart with Castro’s passion for socialism, I ventured homeward. When I returned, the police had become more like soldiers, and gunned down the guilty and the innocent, blindly following the orders of Hitler worshipers.
My allies responded in kind. I was tasked with bombing civilian and military sites, in no particular order except for the places I could get to first.
The aim was to be heard, either with a megaphone, a Kalashnikov or a detonator. So long as there was a trigger at our disposal, we would not stop.
It didn’t matter what the complexion of a person was under daylight, it would all turn into dust when the bombs exploded.
Then hatred bred hatred and the propaganda machine branded us as terrorists. Was it not terror when they destroyed the houses of people, who only wanted to turn such houses into into homes? Was it not terror when they gunned down people, who only wanted to be listened to instead being accused of making noise?
The world either watched or closed its eyes to the matters of our country, until it threatened the price of gold, platinum and other commodities. The representatives of the “free world” could not let a country go unabated to pursue its own acts of genocide, especially when the mutual skin tone of the oppressive government would give the free world a bad name, and deny the resources to be controlled freely by them.
The sanctions and embargoes came, but it only served to kill people already clinging to the edges of their tombs and coffins. Soon I started to see that taking sides was pointless: the big men with their big guns, no matter what they looked like, would have their brutal fun no matter what the world did.
More time began to pass, giving the chance for good people to stand up and let humanity prevail. This is when the true heroes began to surface, no matter what they looked like, to change the course of a nation which thrived on discrimination and conflict.
Eventually, many of these good men and women brought a true revolution, encouraging understanding and fostering dialogue through words instead of bullets, use forgiveness and common humanity as their foundation.
These heroic negotiators brought an end to years of tyranny. People could be free to walk around in their own country. On television, many enemies took each other’s hands and said, “Be my brother.”
It looked like a dream come true, the Rainbow Nation had arrived and I could go back to the den of sheds and shacks to free anyone who was still left behind in the bitterness and the pain.
But, when I arrived, I discovered that many were now comfortable in their broken dwellings, even renting these spaces as tenants living under duress.
Criminals hid between the innocent and ruled the townships as their own. Legitimate businesses would act as fronts to organised crime syndicates, in parallel having their own armed warfare at the expense of already hopeless people.
For them the Rainbow Nation never began.
The most common of all fronts were the minibus associations who mobsters controlled, and assassinations were a weekly occurrence.
To make matters worse, now being a “free” country, the borders opened. More and more people from all over Africa bought into the dream of the Rainbow Nation as well, of whom, many were forced to compete for work and the limited opportunities like pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The townships which started off as places of hopelessness had invariably remained the same. They were many things, including a private underground for trading things worth smuggling: for the ivory of our biodiversity; for organs; for things which our comrades in Mother Russia would appreciate.
The more I tried to free people from the mental slavery they were trapped in, the more they felt comfortable being enslaved.
The new government tried to prove it was different, and they built new houses for people. But, in an effort to save money for themselves with the communism promised, the houses which were built had the habit of collapsing on demand.
And for those who felt comfort in their former shacks, they moved out and sold their newly built houses and let others carry the hot potato of poor construction.
The new government promised they were different. And they were for a while. But over time, all of the problems of the past collided together in the future.
Let me direct you back to the present. We face many social ills with many equalities in our society. Resentment and hatred cause people to violate others for sadistic pleasure.
We can spend the entire day finding reasons to hate each other; why we are different and why we should be apart.
But why not use all of the same reasons to bring us together? For me, I love being surrounded by diversity. I love that I can learn more about life from a stranger on the street than I could from people I knew my entire life.
If I was not born in Africa, I would not have discovered that I could be lief, relief and belief for people. If I was not born in Africa, I would not have been able to say, “I love you,” in more than five languages.
Ngizama ukuluma isiZulu ngoba ngibona umoya abantu.
Miezaka miteny Malagasy aho satria mahita ny fanah’ny olona.
SELECT Spirit FROM People WHERE Love = ‘∞’;
It doesn’t matter the language, whether it is the language of people or the language of computers, I want to devote my life to helping people be the best people they can be, and by understanding everything that makes them who they are.
I may not be perfect in how I express myself, but I seek to make you see a bigger picture, and play your part in adding your own colours to the canvas.
The dream of the Rainbow Nation is dead, but that is because we have a new dream, the dream of the Rainbow World.
Why stop with just one country? If we could each choose to be the physical embodiment of every emotion we wanted to feel, then the world would already be a better place.
Could you embody love? Could you embody hope? Could you embody happiness? Could you embody peace?
I implore you to explore yourself, and help others to do the same.
Only then will the story of our tomorrow change, and people would be able to forgive with words instead of bullets.