recycled trash

The title comes from a post by David Africa at a blog called Thought Leader, a forum set up by the Mail & Guardian, a South African newspaper. Africa’s post is about a new book that covers recent South African history; from the 1970s thru the 80s and into the early 90’s.

Here’s Africa’s summary:

Anthea Jeffery commits 634 pages to a study of the “people’s war” in the South African context in an attempt to debunk what she claims to be a false conception of how the ANC gained power, the nature of the political violence that characterised South Africa from the 1980s up to 1994, and a special attempt to whitewash the Inkatha Freedom Party from its role in fomenting and carrying out large-scale violence against black South Africans. Jeffery, acclaimed for her “meticulous and objective approach”, manages to rewrite history and in the process expose a fraud of monumental proportions: one in which the ANC, internal political opposition, the media, liberal organisations (except her beloved SA Institute of Race Relations of course) connived to effect the overthrow of the apartheid government, destroy the democratic black opposition (aka Inkatha) and establish itself as the supreme political movement in South Africa. And of course the Russians plotted the whole thing (…)

Why my interest in this post, in this period of history, in what was taking place in South Africa? For one thing, it parallels my own development as a political animal. During this time, I worked in the States. I had eggs thrown at me because I had long hair. I was subject to the draft. I could have been sent to
Vietnam.

It was also a time when civil rights workers were attacked and murdered for registering Black Americans for the vote. I was shocked when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, race riots exploded, and armoured personnel carriers brought National Guard troops into our neighbourhood. The difference between right and wrong, the abuse of power by governments, how I saw and understood Canada’s Indian policies and how that translated into everyday life back home, began to crystalize in my mind.

I returned to Canada to learn about a place called Kenora, about ropes in theatres designating the Whites only section, was warned not to walk on the “White side of the street” in a northern Ontario town, began to draw my own or learn about the parallels between South Africa’s apartheid system and the Indian Act system, Bantu education and Native Education policy in Canada, as well as the mindless monolithic bureaucracies that kept such abominations to human rights chugging along. I also became familiar with the movements to overthrow or dismantle both.

So go read David Africa’s post. Then read the comments following it. Interesting because you’ll learn that the anti-apartheid movement wasn’t only about the ANC, that some Black organizations actively supported the National Party and fought against the ANC for reasons of their own, that the modern type of warfare that we see today deliberately includes civilian casualties and has roots in the anti-colonial wars from Vietnam on thru various African wars.

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Filed under Africa, journalism, South Africa, writing

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