Friends & Friction: Reparations can offer a bright future

2014-11-19 13:45

At least this much I remember: it was a sunny day. But from there onwards, everything fades in the mist of time, except for the vivid peaks and the scary valleys that shook me to my impressionable core and etched certain beliefs on my soul.

I also remember I saw Busi again that day. She was so special – a neighbour, a sister and a friend combined in a single girl.

Her bright, white eyes beamed the promise of the life ahead – a girl growing into a woman shaped by the culture in which she lived, and in return adding her own touch as it evolved into a future unknown.

Like a big disaster that annihilates some species on our planet, the forced removals struck our township, and I lost my Busi. So when I saw her again on that day, I enjoyed the very rare boyhood elation that women will never, ever understand.

I also remember a tall gentleman wearing a jacket and a jersey, and a toddler who was more of a pest than a playmate who kept interrupting our reunion.

I was there because my mother and I had come to visit her friend who rented a single room in a shebeen. The toddler was her son and the gentleman in the jacket was her husband.

Something says to me he was just a lover, but maybe that is only a prejudice introduced by time.

There was a lot of drinking during the day. After dark, we all huddled up in the kitchen, then the daily soapie began: the gentleman in the jacket started beating his wife badly, but I paid that no mind.

It was like watching an amateur boxing match, something that people did for fun. Adults beat their children, men beat their women and white men beat everybody.

Everyone in the kitchen begged the gentleman in the jacket to leave his wife alone. Apartheid emasculated black men and turned them into dangerous, attention-seeking beasts.

Let me tell you this: you will never understand the pain of forced removals until the names of your best friends have become faceless in your memory and some of the faces you knew well slowly lose their names.

The lives and the friendships that have been lost can never be replaced. I am not asking for those.

I am also not asking for retribution, but for reparations similar to the Reparations Agreement signed between Israel and West Germany. In terms of that agreement, Germany was to pay Israel for slave labour and the persecution of Jewish people.

Before our country bursts into flames, we need an urgent “reparations conference” to decide how to deal with all the corporations that enforced apartheid.

The allegations that IBM’s technology was used to make the pass laws possible must be investigated and if found to be true, the company must be held responsible and fined heavily.

Datsun and Land Rover, which customised the riot police vehicles, must also be investigated for being accomplices in the crimes against humanity.

Parliament needs to pass a “reparations act”, which will enable us to deal with the companies and farmers who were accomplices and beneficiaries of an evil system.

We must then use that money to give our children the brighter future that was stolen from our forebears.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.