When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.

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It really has been a sad/momentous few days.

No matter what your personal thoughts are of Nelson Mandela – I think the overall feeling that we can agree on is that someone who has changed, touched us all and forever impacted on our lives has left this earth.

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This was probably my favourite tweet …..

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Twitter used tweets about Mandela’s death to generate the following graphic, made up of the texts of those tweets.

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This is probably my favourite image of Nelson Mandela ..

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I remembered this blog post I had posted some time back on Nelson Mandela and Black People – https://reluctantmom.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/nelson-mandela-and-black-people/

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Nelson Mandela and Black People ….

We are driving home from school yesterday and Connor tells me about the theme they are doing at school. It’s all about Mandela and how things were pre-1994 and how things have improved/changed for people of colour since then.

Georgia goes: “Apartheid was when rainbow children went to a rainbow school, black children went to a black school and white children went to a white school…”  It would be nice if it was that simple, but yes, that was one of the things that was in place pre-1994.

Connor started asking me what I thought when Mandela was released.

I said – quite honestly – that at the time I did not really know who he was.  I knew he had been in jail, I knew that there had been a lot of jostling and negotiating to Release Mandela, but further than that, I really knew little about who Nelson Mandela was.  I did not even realise we had “apartheid” going on. Of course I never stopped to think where the black/coloured people went after the sun went down.

Connor asked me what it was like when I was at school and black people were treated unfairly …… I actually am embarrassed to say it, but I really was not “aware” of what was going on.

I recall when a state of emergency was announced.  As far as I knew “black people” were rioting and causing damage.  I recall us talking about how  “black people” were going to come to our school and burn things and some kids opted not to go to school – my mom didn’t roll that way, and riot or no riot we were going to school.

In our home we did not discuss politics – it was like we sat in this little bubble and lived in fear/concern of the others. We were always taught not to treat someone differently because they were not white.

But we still referred to “garden boys” and “petrol boys” and “nannies” as girls, so I guess we were being taught one thing, but in practice experiencing something totally different.

We never say black/coloured people as my school was white.  When I caught public transport I seldom saw black/coloured people unless I travelled in to Cape Town.  And they all seemed to be busy doing what ever it was they were doing, and I sort of got on with what I was doing.

The first time I started to question whether Apartheid was something that I should maybe think about was when we had to do an unprepared oral in Standard 9.  I was at a new school, and was up in Kimberley.  Kimberley Girls High was a small school, and a lot of the students did not live in South Africa.  They lived in Botswana or some of the other neighbouring countries.

The girls were far more liberally aware than I was.

Unprepared Oral and Lyndsey McLaren stands up and starts explaining how the Apartheid system is like a badly built house, that mustn’t be taken down one brick at a time, but is so terrible and such a danger, that someone should go in with a bulldozer and flatten it.  She made a plea to release Nelson Mandela as well and all with a great deal of passion.

I sat there and thought that Lyndsey was clearly demented.  But it was like someone had flicked a hole in a rather smooth and clear wall in my head …. little bits of light started to go through the cracks.

I might have argued against the destruction of the Apartheid system.  I think I had read an article about how much better it was if “everyone kept to their like” so that everyone was comfortable, and everyone kept their own culture, traditions and so on.  Clearly a Hendrik Verwoerd inspired article.

Sounds fair, except the part where we were being kept separated so that white people could be treated better, and everyone who was not in that group, got treated pretty shit when it came to government contribution, laws and employment, and pretty much daily life.

I have digressed …. so in answer to Connor’s question, I said that I was there pre-apartheid, but really was not aware of what was going on.  Like no idea.

It was not something we spoke about or discussed, or for that matter saw.  I often used to wonder how during the Holocaust German people could say “but we did not know what was happening” and I always used to tsk-tsk-tsk and go, “of course you did, idiot!”

I was oblivious to an entire system in operation around me.  I think from standard 9 I started listening more when people spoke and asking questions. I still think even up to Nelson Mandela’s release I really did not understand what had occurred and was happening.

I recall how uneasy I was when Chris Hani died and there were demonstrations that turned in to riots in Cape Town.  I knew something was happening, but I was sure our policeman would sort it out and tomorrow all would be fine.  Nothing quite like  “white optimism” for you.

I recall how unsettled I was when the flag changed — I rather liked our liked our flag before ….. I knew there was something going on that I did not quite grasp.

I am not sure if it was just the way it was. I finished school in 1989 – did anyone else have access to a bit more information than me — did you have a clear idea what the hell was going on?

{About two years ago we went to the Apartheid Museum – what an incredible place.  You need a few hours to look at the images and read the captions, but for me it was quite dramatic in terms of me remembering “the time” and suddenly seeing a photo and a caption which put it in to context and thinking HOW THE FK COULD I HAVE NOT SEEN IT?}

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The Bang Bang Club …

Kennith’s company has a Culture Club.

I know I also thought of Boy George and the “Karma Chameleon” song when I first heard the term “culture club.”

But Kennith’s place of employment actually have people who are spend time trying to invest some culture into those who might not have any.  Good company that.

Last week they invited us (and the other few hundred employees and partners) to a screening of The Bang Bang Club at V&A.

I have been interested in seeing the movie as I heard a review by Barry Ronge, and it peaked my interest.

I knew a tiny bit (slither) of what the move was about, but really I knew nothing in a practical sense.

It was a fantastic frkn movie!

In short – and I am so plagiarizing the short version from here is “The Bang Bang Club is the true story of four young combat photographers bonded by friendship and their sense of purpose to tell the truth. They risk their lives and use their cameras to tell the world of the violence associated with the first free elections in post-Apartheid South Africa. Ryan Phillippe, Malin Akerman and Taylor Kitsch star in a film that explores the thrills, danger, and moral questions associated with exposing the truth.”

I really do not want to get into a huge debate as whether this is a great movie for the masses, so I will purely comment on what I saw and what I experienced.

The film was gripping from the get go.

One or two of the South African’s accents were a bit off, but I was willing to “let that go” for the overall story, and soon stopped hearing the “incorrect accents” as the story took me along.

I watched a part of history unfolding on the screen that I was either too stupid/too niave/too white/too suburban to realise was going on just a few kilometres down the road from were I was living my brown bread pre-sliced at Shoprite existence.

There were some horrific scenes that appear to be “every day life” if you were black, and living in the townships and it was before 1994.

The weight of what I saw and what appeared to be “real experiences” for everyday black folk disturbed me – maybe not because in 2011 I am not more aware, but maybe I was trying to avoid thinking about what went on in “those years.” (very much putting fingers in ears and go la-la-la when someone is telling you bad news).

I was absolutely horrified by the violence (which appeared senseless to me) that went on between ANC and IFP supporters on a daily basis (or maybe it was the movie being over dramatic).

People where being killed, tortured, set on fire, throwing themselves in front of live ammunition — and I am not always sure what the reasoning was.

Maybe I am/was ignorant beyond ignorant.

I am disturbed that I was seeing images that seemed to indicate our police/army seemed to take the ANC side and help them against the IFP.

<I had a very enlightening (eye opening) conversation with a guy in my office yesterday.  He was trying to explain the issues around the ANC and the IFP faction fighting and raised some really interesting things that I had not even thought about …..and did not “realise” were being played out in front of me, to this day>

The entire movie was so disturbing and so horrific and gritty and real, that it really made me feel quite ill.

Maybe it is because I am South African.

Maybe it is because I am white, and was there in that time when black youths were fighting while I was just puttering along to my lily-white government school singing “Die Stem” and happy to think Prime Minister Botha was as truthful and pure as the driven snow.

Not for a moment did I think it was odd that there were only white kids in my school – seemed totally reasonable at the time.

Maybe it was because I believed what ever the government told me.

Maybe it was because we never had a discussion ever at school/in my house about what was happening to black/non-white people and I feel embarrassed/shamed that I did not stand up in protest.

I seriously had no idea what the hell was going on.  (possibly the German folk used the same argument during the holocaust?)

Maybe it was that I was just to stupid/unawares to know what was really going on 20km down the road.

I saw the movie.

I can’t say I enjoyed the movie as I am sure I “blanched” in a few places and felt physically ill, but it was a good movie.  It was a memorable movie.  My attention did not waver or drift for a moment.

I was not comfortable watching the movie.  If you are hoping to go on a first date and then have sex after the move, this might not be THAT movie.

I was deeply effected.

I think South Africa has come a long way.

I think there are more South African truths that we as “white folk” do no know about.

I am not sure I have the stomach to know more “truth.”

<Flashback moment:  Lynsey MacLaren gave in “unprepared oral:” about the apartheid system and that it was a house that needed to be destroyed.  Not one brick at a time, but with a huge bulldozer.  I listened to her and thought she was some sort of ‘freak’ with the wild assumptions about what was going on and clearly did not really understand the situation.

Well, because clearly I could not “see” anything wrong with the present status quo.  I was okay with the fact that blacks did not pay tax so they could not vote, seemed seriously like a great system.  That entire concept (at the time) sat well with me.  It was 1989 and I was about as ignorant as what dog shit would. be if it lived alone and did not have the benefit of bacteria to educate it.  Lynsey’s little unprepared oral still rings in my head nearly two decades later, and at the time had a profound effect on me, if not immediate, it did as time rolled by ….. just saying.>