It had occurred to me over the last couple of years, how I feel like I am an animal in a zoo; a badly-run zoo.
In a well-run zoo, the animals are fed on time; the cages are cleaned regularly; and clean water is regularly provided. The people who peer into your cages have an approving look on their faces, and there are a lot more visitors that you can interact with. You can show off your prowess in a neater environment.
Now the zoo has become a litany of neglect.
It is only when the zoo becomes badly run that you begin to realize that you are in a zoo. You have no say in what happens in the zoo; when the feeds don't arrive on time and in the incorrect quantities, you want to protest, but the zoo-keeper, just smiles and gives you a speech that says, that "all of this is a result of apartheid, but don't worry, soon there will be enough food" but the food still doesn't arrive.
You begin to wonder about this thing called apartheid, because you weren't even born then. Did apartheid affect the abilities of the zoo-keeper, or did it destroy all the food? Maybe it affected the ability of the cleaners to clean your cage or perhaps it made the visitors less and less. It seems very puzzling. Just last month the elephants began trumpeting because there was not enough food, and they were "muzzled". When you enquired of the cleaners, they said in hushed tones, "Its because of the "Protection of Information Bill." He nodded his head knowingly and winked as if I would understand, but I remained as puzzled as ever.
I spoke to the chimpanzees and they told me that you should not question the zoo-keeper, because if you did, you might not get any food at all. I spoke to the crocodiles across the way. They actually deemed to lift their eyelids, and just yawned. Then I spoke to the lions and they said they were too weak to even discuss it. Than I asked the owl next door. The owl ruffled his feathers, opened his eyes for a split second, and with great wisdom in his voice said, "Haven't you noticed the cage around you? You can get in, but you can't get out." This did not seem too profound a statement so I decided to engage him further. "What do you mean?"
"Well, didn't you notice that when apartheid ended, they opened the cages? Didn't you notice that you decided to stay in your cage and be dependent on the new zoo-keeper. You decided that the new zoo-keeper was better than the old zoo-keeper so you stayed in your cage, even though the cage was open and you could get out. The new zoo-keeper gave you that opportunity, to get out of your cage. And what did you decide to do? You stayed in your cage! That is what happens to zoo animals. They are afraid to start their own independent lives. That's what we do. We are so used to being dependent, we always hope that the new zoo-keeper is better than the old one, but few actually run away. Now the new zoo-keeper is not better than the old zoo-keeper, but you had better get used to that because zoo-keepers are zoo-keepers. We depend on them and if they don't deliver, who have we have got none to blame. Just ourselves."
Over the months, the wisdom of the owl began to sink in. I had missed the opportunity to fly out of my cage. I had hoped that the new zoo-keeper would be better than the old zoo-keeper. I was still in my cage, with less food, less drinkable water and less cleaning, and if I dared to speak out, there was this new muzzle, called the "Protection of Information Bill" that would muzzle me.
This made me think about the days when the food was good, the water clear and my cage clean, and I wished for a day when they would open the cages again, but alas this would not happen again soon, or would it? I guess it depended on us animals.
"Zoo-keepers are very good at keeping us caged", I thought. "So why hadn't they kept the cages open for longer? I guess, I decided, because if all the animals escaped there would be no zoo! But they knew we would not escape because we are really afraid to be free."
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