Georgina Guedes

The irony of Red October

2013-10-10 14:22

Georgina Guedes

There's a picture that beautifully captures the irony of the Red October march taking place apparently "around the globe", but most notably in South Africa today. I'll get to that irony in a bit.

The purpose of the march is to protest the white genocide that a certain faction of the population believes is taking place in South Africa at the moment.

Their website states: "We are tired of corrupt governance, racist black economic empowerment and affirmative action policies. We can no longer tolerate the destruction of our infrastructure, our filthy government hospitals, our pathetic educational system, dirty dams and rivers, unhabitable parks and public areas, dangerous neighbourhoods and filthy streets. The list is endless and we say it's ENOUGH!"

I am the first to admit that there are problems with the current government, and that a number of the things on that list are true (pathetic educational [sic] system, dangerous neighbourhoods and filthy government hospitals being the first among these), but the point that this manifesto is missing is that these are equal-opportunity problems.

In fact, I'm pretty certain (but don't have the full figures at hand to analyse) that it's the black people who suffer far more than the whites in South Africa from our failing education system, dangerous neighbourhoods and filthy government hospitals.

Police protection

But now, on to the irony. The picture I'm talking about shows a bunch of protesters holding aloft their red balloons like a bunch of clowns at a kid's birthday party, while a (rather sullen) black policeman marches alongside them, protecting their right to march, their right to freedom of speech and their right to public safety.

It's a beautiful image - and actually, one that makes me proud. Here is a bunch of angry white people, protesting essentially everything to do with the current government and claiming persecution, and there they are, being protected by the government. Isn't that what democracy is all about? Aren't we living in a great country?

But there is another, far more sinister point that the marchers haven't given much thought to and that is that when black people protested their oppression under the old regime, the old regime shot their children.

So to everyone involved in Red October, I'd like to point out that while our government is far from perfect, at least their policies, their laws and their constitution are about equality, and do afford protection to all South African citizens and not a privileged minority (or at least the privileged minority is now a far fairer representation of the make-up of this country).

And while I agree that just because the last regime was an oppressive tyranny doesn't mean that we should suck up whatever the current government serves up, we should rather add our voices to protests against crime, poor service delivery, bad education and negligent government healthcare, without claiming that these problems are ours (white people's) in isolation, because we miss the good old days. They weren’t, and I certainly don’t.

I would also like to make it clear to anyone reading this, in case it wasn’t abundantly obvious from my tone, that nothing about Red October is done in my name.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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