Human Rights Day: Ode To Our Dearest Parents

2014-03-21 13:50

I don’t suspect a lot of young South Africans today can imagine what it was like being a black person in South Africa back in the 1950’s. It only occurs to me now in the capacity I can afford that I was actually raised by slaves, who were raised by slaves as well.

To say our parents were strong would be a sore understatement. And within the equation itself we still have to single out the black woman, who sometimes found herself at odds with both colonial and cultural oppression.

These guardians of ours did not choose to incarnate and live in their generation, but they were like a natural procession in the wheel of history. They didn’t experience atrocities but their entire lives were an atrocity. I don’t think any experience in creation can outweigh being born a slave in cruelty. I’m only speaking from a youthful standpoint, as someone who was only ‘partially’ affected by apartheid.

I can only imagine how certain insensitive actions by the former oppressor and our current leaders have impacted the parents we love, who have held the hard end of the stick for too long. In all honesty, it will be hard for me to justifiably blame my parents for their abusive or unfair tendencies. I cannot, because these same people were born slaves and not free men and women.

Our parents grew up believing they couldn’t think like or better than white people, that they couldn’t resolve complex mathematical problems, let alone govern themselves productively. They were taught to love and adore the white man with a godly type of devotion, while he ignored and undermined them worse than his own pets.

Despite all these obstacles, they had resistant spirits, and were constantly challenging the wrongful authority of their captors. With most black people, loving and humble by nature, the idea was not revenge and vengeance, but to live together in unity and equality. The black community was not necessarily demanding a verbal apology from the Boers, but that we sit on a table of common sense and resolve things for our collective future.

All these mature and divinely decisions were surprisingly made by the same people who were supposed to be savages and uncivilized. And the ones who committed these savage acts on our beloved parents were supposed to be the civilized ones.

In speaking of parents, we refer to a broad spectrum of characters who raised children throughout that era of transformation until the present. These may be those who were born between the 40’s and the 60’s, when there was so much turmoil the world over. Their parents in turn would be the generation born between the first and second world wars.

I’ve met a considerable number of great grandfathers who alleged they had fought in the world wars. They were still official slaves at that time, and though they fought for South Africa and the Allies, they did not earn the same merits as their European counterparts. Some of them must have been babies when the Native Land Act of the British took effect in 1913.

In actuality, our grandparents had it worse, our parents had it rather bad, and we in turn have it much better. But as much as we can talk about the so called ‘born-frees’, so long as they’re raised by old slavish minds, they’re likely to adopt slavish mentalities also, although less severely. Using our prized wisdom, we may still protect them from certain harmful vibes.

Colonialism and apartheid did tear the black family structure apart, from whatever angle we may review this. The black man who was sent to the big cities in the lower echelons of society, removed from family and exposed to marginalisation, prostitution, terror, gambling, manipulation and what not, is by no means a truthful reflection of the African adult male.

It would be easy for an adversary to retort that the man should not blame the environment for his own loose morals. Yet ask him to play the same demeaning role to see how he fares, and he will shriek and whine like plastic in the flame.

Yet our own parents, in all their universal challenges, did their level best to maintain uprightness and focus during the hardest times. They have made their mark in the pages of history, and have passed the pen into our hands, to write the pages of our own history, in the same book but on a new page. ©

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2010-11-21 18:15

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