Fire In The Rainbow

2016-05-19 14:29

Ncedani!!! Amanzi Amanzi Amanzi!!!  Umama wam!! “These are the horrifying screams you wake up to. A room full of black smoke which has tuned your saliva into mucus as you battle to catch your breath zinc starts falling burning what was once a home and all you had in your life. The nauseating charcoal smell of burning skin invades the air and a cloud full of tears floats about followed by deafening thunderous cries. Everyone is on their knees some mourning their loved ones some looking at the ashes with deep resentment. “What God does this?” A child cries holding her a mother who cannot provide answers anymore.

The camera’s start arriving, the government is put on blast as reporters try to map what happened.  Ministers arrive and reassure the community “We are on your side” he utters while tucking in his Polo shirt and as speedy as his arrival so is his departure in some high end SUV. The story makes the news and in all that commotion the average South African is unmoved.  The watchdog stops drooling over the scene and packs his “objectively sponsored equipment” and goes and reports ‘objectively’ elsewhere where a much juicer bone lies perhaps with the coloureds and  the fire of bullets shared between gangs in Port Elizabeth where embattled Jordaan fails to inspire the new Metro Police in the unFIFA like impoverished city.

A fire in the University Of Fort Hare has dampened the hype around the usually “much anticipated” Centenary celebrations at the historic University. The students at the institution reliving scenes of what happens when management underestimates students raised with June 16 scheduled yearly movie Sarafina. The government has reassured the public it will go ahead with the celebrations at Univeristy where aged Zimbabwen President and UFH Alumni Robert Mugabe is rumoured to be making an appearance but only by invitation according to his spokesperson.

The fire burning in South Africa has captured the average Tom, Dick and Thandi. The very same who cared little about the exhausting yearly cape fires that cripple farmers and informal settlements in the best run municipalities   “Why are the students doing this?”, “They have lost their way” and all of a sudden the nation is qualified to speak when fire comes to western institutions. Perhaps it is not in line with what investors want, an odd truth to stick to considering the greatest investors are the students themselves - something management forgets. The students being there keeps the business of education, degrees and jobs going. The critics rally behind cushions of privilege that qualify them to speak when only it affects them. Quickly we forget the fires that gave birth to a democratic South Africa.

What has become apparent is that South Africans have likened their hearts to that of Mobutu Sese Seko as opposed to Nelson Mandela. Perhaps we have cultivated a culture of tolerance to injustice as long as the people are poor and not in our space perhaps thus the failing correctional services with their overcrowding of everything bad about society though the very same people are produced by the same society that rebukes them. It is a time where the fire burning in South Africa in varying places is supposed to ignite a societal response that would be fitting of June 1976 or rather what I saw on Sarafina. Perhaps the emotional recital of Burn! Burn! In the film lay a seed in the imagination of the youth.

South Africa is on fire and the war is human on human. The war is subtle and the enemy is the State, University Management, protesting students, the war is us losing the magic that made us beautiful. At a time of economic uncertainty, increased retrenchments, downsized budgets and high unemployment the people become agitated. Violence is not a means of communication rather a response to failed communication between parties which leads to frustration on the part of those oppressed.

There is a fire burning still and that is of one man challenging the rest of the nation to learn to work together. Tougher times lie ahead and if we are falling in the autumn the winter will freeze our hearts to violence and injustice.

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