Marikana Anniversary, Chronicle of the Innocence Murdered

2015-08-15 10:37

Marikana in essence is a mini version of the Rwandan genocide in terms of backwardness and darkness it expresses. The more you look at the Marikana videos the more you are forced to invoke William Butler Yeats:  the vile are full of passionate intensity.

It was like as if the miners were being besieged by a horde of rabid hyenas. The sounds of the police guns as they pumped bullets on the miners were like the cracking laughter of hyenas as they attack and feast viciously on their prey.

It is difficult to exaggerate Marikana. Marikana was not a tragedy as we understand tragedy but horror, mayhem and slaughter of almost defenceless people.

That is the reason why Marikana does not go away. The gravity of Marikana is that even after 3 years of persistent efforts to understate its extent and magnitude, the nation continues to grieve immensely.

With so many that divides South African people Marikana seems to be a point where the colours of a rainbow coalesce.

Marikana pain touched deply all people. That shows that Marikana is not a social or political issue but something that goes at the very core of our shared humanity.

Neutrality or passive contemplation with regard to Marikana is untenable. What is at stake is what constitute humanity.

To demand that people must just move on in the midst of such overwhelming grieve is queer. The trauma runs much deeper. We cannot move on and leave Marikana behind.

Collective forgetting – otherwise known as mass amnesia is not possible.

Marikana will now be a badge forever in South Africa – it will remain with us as an emotional attachment in the way the murder of John F. Kennedy and 2001 September 11 (9/11) terrorist attacks are with the American people.

The passage of time will not obscure the facts; people saw what they saw and it registered deeply in their conscience. What people saw and witnessed is pure inhumane acts.

The only way forward is to find a way to live with Marikana positively. What will be acceptable and morally just is to ensure that the guilty are vigorously pursued and the families of the slain miners are comforted in a real practical way.

We should demonstrate the resoluteness of George Bush. Moments after the 2001 September 11 (9/11) terrorist attacks President Bush stated: "He Can Run But He Can't Hide, I want Osama bin Laden dead or alive."

11 days after the violent attacks, US Congress (Parliament) created a Compensation fund to compensate family members of the fallen. Payments went to widows and widowers, children and parents. The speedy creation of the fund, which required the cooperation of lawmakers on all political sides, was particularly dramatic and decisive. It was created within 11 days.

Congress ensured that compensation should first start with the families of the lowest paid breadwinners that have died.

The Compensation Fund closed in 2003, but President Barack Obama when he became president activated the Fund in 2011 and called the fund Zadroga, to continue supporting the families.

Each life is sacred and important. And each of those men who died under the hands of the police needs to be appreciated and honored. Each was somebody’s son, husband, father, or brother.

The death of anyone should, as the great quote goes, diminish us. The death of so many should crush our spirits and inspire decisive action.

I agree with the JK Rowling quote in Harry Porter that we are the choices we make. What choices or decisions are we making about Marikana?

Today the hills of Marikana are a pilgrimage. People drive from near and far to come along these hills to retrace the events where the lives of 34 miners were instantly destroyed. During these times of August, the month of the commemorations the number of people coming to Marikana for pilgrimage increases.

People visit this place to seek to enter the psychological depths of the murdered miners, to conjecture their emotions.

But there is a bigger inhumanity that also needs to be considered regarding Marikana. On the north east side of Marikana hills is the sprawling squatter camp called Nkaneng.  This is the place where majority of miners resides.

Nkaneng is a sprawling landscape of dust. It is clear that this is a place -  a nest for the poorest of the poor people.

Water supply which summarizes the presence and bubbling of life is significantly scarce among the residence of Nkaneng.

The dusty roads are rutted and plastic bags of various colors are littered across. It is a dire portrait of the magnitude of poverty in South Africa.

Further into Nkaneng I met people who know the leader of the slain miners Mr Mgcineni Noki (the man with a green blanket). The residence of Marikana talked about him positively. They refer to him as Mambush.

One woman said: To know Mambush at close quarters was to be tempted into believing in the impossibility of his death. How could a man so graceful and rich in humanity, a man so gregarious and approachable, a man possessed of the deepest, most resonant laughter I ever heard – how could such a man die that way?

Another said: First, Mambush was poor man from Eastern Cape but deeply human. He had a big, resounding laughter.

As I connected dots about his life I realised that Mambush came from Mqanduli village near Umthatha in the Eastern Cape – I noticed that Mqanduli village is near Qunu the home place of Nelson Mandela. The distance from Mqanduli to Qunu is 25 km.

Leading Without a Title (LWT): The Man with the green Blanket

Mr Noki was a rock drill operator. Rock drill operators often develops scars on their backs because when they drill rocks underground some rocks fall on their backs creating gaping wounds that are full of pain. The pain is so bad that you cannot even have sleep as the pain is deep and wants you to wake up and sit down.

Peter Alexander, Professor and Chair of Sociology at the University of Johannesburg, in his book;  Marikana, a View from the Mountain and a Call to Answer writes that today's miners work worse like slaves as compared to miners during the 1920s. It is worse and it is harsher, it can break the neck of an ox.

Poor Mr Noki. He is remembered shouting at the top of his lungs. He was shouting to be acknowledged and appreciated as a human being.

Mambush was a leader with no title. One woman talked about his personal attributes – an extraordinary sense of rapport, a quality of natural wisdom that came from clear thinking, and a habit of candor.

For me Marikana and Nkaneng are not the geographic expression so called but home to peoples and individuals with aspirations and challenges. They are one and united with me in a moral and human sense.

The people of Marikana impressed me with their strength to seek to preserve their humanity in the midst of utter disaster, they soared my spirits with their habitual extension of handshakes.

My friend who teaches ethics at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) will tell you that once you downgrade the worth of another human being as insignificant, you are in essence affirming and preaching your own unworthiness.

Perfecting the ugly comes with experience.

To save us we must be seen to be willing to make personal sacrifices and embrace truth and sanity.

What is needed is to undergo an emotional purging, to create a catharsis of the will and understanding. And most importantly find lasting, credible, acceptable, satisfying and comforting conclusion about Marikana.

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