2. A friend of mine in Durban got herself involved in a project that draws talented artists together to benefit an orphanage on the Bluff called Shepherd’s Keep. This particular charity has taken on the mind-numbing responsibility of finding and saving the thousands (yes, thousands) of discarded babies all over the city. New-born babies are found in trash bags in the middle of freeways, in gutters, under bushes with their umbilical cords still attached and even in dustbins, and Shepherd’s Keep tries all it can to simply rescue them. My friend recently found herself in the small town of Drummond and spotted a cosy-looking art gallery. Assuming she’d find willing local arty-types inside to rally to the cause, she entered and approached the gallery owner with her card. Midway through her spiel about the babies, Shepherd’s Keep and the contribution artists around the world were already making to the cause, the man stopped her and asked brusquely, “what colour?” Angela, paused, dumbfounded, and said, “Colour?” Gallery owner: “Yes, what colour are the babies?” Angela: “Well, they’re mostly African babies…” Gallery owner, handing her card back: “Sorry, I’m only interested in helping white babies”.
3. My Zulu friend Futhi and I are always talking about the status quo. It usually involves a lot of head-shaking, incredulous laughter and tsk-tsking, as South African conversations often do. Yesterday she happened to mention the general attitude of impoverished Zulu’s in her township to the recent murder of Eugene Tereblanche, the disgraced leader of the white supremacist organization the AWB. According to her, the murder and its attendant media storm only served to remind South African blacks how racially unequal South Africa still is. “Why should there be so much fuss over one beaten white man,” she said, “when black farm workers are treated like that every day by white farmers?” You could argue that Tereblanche’s profile as AWB leader made his a special case, but there’s an element of truth in her observation: blacks are just anonymously un-newsworthy, and life in Africa has different grades (or skin-tones, if you will) of value. Abuse continues, thirteen-year-old boys are branded with hot iron to prevent them from stealing from the baas… but that’s not going to sell newspapers, now is it?
4. On Tuesday 27th April 2010 South Africa acknowledged the 16th anniversary of the day South Africa became a democracy. The next day the Times’ headline read “We are not yet free”, and reported on various South African responses to Freedom Day. The accompanying picture showed president Jacob Zuma and Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane guffawing in plush leather armchairs, no doubt while loyal subjects cavorted onstage for their pleasure at the Freedom Day celebrations at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. The average response of those surveyed by the Times was, “nothing has changed, and Freedom Day is an insult”. Nothing new there. But JZ’s speech contained a quotable quote, unusual for a man whose oratory is eye-peelingly bland. “In four years’ time”, said JZ, “we will have been free for 20 years. We will not have much sympathy for any reasons advanced to explain the failure to make a difference in the lives of our people.” In other words, explained the Times, South Africa has only four more years to blame apartheid for its present ills. We’d better get a move on, quick! As soon as the expiry date runs out on apartheid, we’ll only have ourselves to blame! And we can’t have that. Why, the brave comrades, cadres and veterans of the struggle have the moral high ground in perpetuity, don’t they? 69-year-old Triphina Radebe of Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, says it best: “We are not free at all, we still live in hardship and even Zuma has never come here to see how we are struggling”.