The complexity of the Sharing and Caring Philosophy

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I am writing that blog post, since in a couple of hours, some youngsters from the YUVA (Youth United Voluntary Action) from Mauritius, under the supervision of their young leader Krishna Athal, will be going into a small district in the country, where people live in poor conditions, to distribute some school materials to a lot of children who want to learn but who don’t have the necessary material tools to be able to learn properly. I may write about the lack of success in education in another blog post, since there are lots of interesting things to share together in it, but in that one I am actually writing, I am focusing especially on the generous action made by those Mauritian youngsters, and at the same time I would like the whole world to know more about them all because they are really worth to be discovered. I wrote some stuffs about their founder Krishna Athal in two blog posts, one where I describe him as a young rising political prodigy in the country, and another one where I reviewed his Wikipedia biography, and through those blog posts, I think that you will know much more about him. Regarding the YUVA movement, I recently read an interview of Krishna Athal where he was telling us more the YUVA movement, for which you can also find some more details on the website of the movement. But whatever Krishna mentioned in his interview, I think, will already give you a global clue about the movement itself:

The twelve Sustainable Development Goals are:

  1. Eradicate poverty in Mauritius in all its forms.
  2. Eradicate hunger, achieve food security and improve the quality of nutrition.
  3. Ensure good health and promote the well-being of all.
  4. Ensure quality education (civic and life).
  5. Promote gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  6. Promoting economic progress by encouraging youth entrepreneurship and providing facilities for start-ups.
  7. To ensure the regional integration with on the menu of programs of exchange with the youth of the neighboring countries.
  8. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact.
  9. Preserve the marine environment with the protection of beaches and ensure the sustainable use of the sea and marine resources.
  10. Encourage the love of sport and physical activity for all and for all ages.
  11. Exploit technology and encourage innovation by ensuring that an effective culture of techno permeates all sectors of society in every corner and corner of Mauritius.
  12. Encourage the love of art and culture by ensuring dynamic arts development and extending support to local artists.

I am in admiration in front of such wonderful youngsters, and if today I am focusing on their movement, it’s also to remind all of us that those twelve goals should be thought about in each human being’s lives and not only during some specific reasons.

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I have noticed that in Mauritius especially, people mostly choose the Christmas celebration to have a thought for the elderly, the poor and the needy, whereas those same poor people are forgotten during the rest of the year. But the Yuvans understood perfectly that sharing and giving was a question of attitude and not a question of occasion to give. There are NO occasions to give a part of you. Sharing and giving should be a part of us each and every day, independently from the Christmas celebration. Do you remember, when you were all children, about the fairy tale of the little match girl? If you read the summary of the story below, you will understand much better why this story should touch your hearts and why Christmas shouldn’t be the only occasion to share and give:

On a cold New Year’s Eve, a poor young girl tries to sell matches in the street. She is already shivering from cold and early hypothermia, and she is walking barefoot having lost her shoes.[1] Still, she is too afraid to go home, because her father will beat her for not selling any matches, and also as the cracks in the house can’t keep out the cold wind. The girl takes shelters in a nook or alley and sits down.[2]

The girl lights the matches to warm herself. In their glow she sees several lovely visions, including a Christmas tree and a holiday feast. The girl looks skyward and sees a shooting star; she then remembers her dead grandmother saying that such a falling star means someone is dying and is going to go to Heaven. As she lights the next match, she sees a vision of her grandmother, the only person to have treated her with love and kindness. She strikes one match after another to keep the vision of her grandmother alive for as long as she can.

After running out of matches the child dies, and her grandmother carries her soul to Heaven. The next morning, passers-by find the child dead in the nook, frozen with a smile on her face, and guess the reason for the burnt-out matches beside her. They feel pity for her, although they had not shown kindness to her before her death. They have no way of knowing about the wonderful visions she saw before her death or how gloriously she and her grandmother are now celebrating the New Year in Heaven.[3]

That story also is worth to be meditated. We tend to choose some special occasions, especially Christmas, to do shopping for our loved ones and for people whom we will see only once a year and afterwards who will disappear in front of our eyes for the rest of their lives. With a hypocrite feeling, we will want as well to share and give to the needy because of the joy of Christmas. But as soon as the Christmas festivities are gone, the sharing and giving is gone together with them. In my family-in-law, for Christmas and the New Year Eve, each family member shares and gives some gifts between themselves… But when the celebrations are over, each family member goes aside, at the exception of a few of them who still live in solidarity with each other. In Mauritius as well, it’s the same thing. Though the country highly got developed, the needy are forgotten during almost all the year in their struggle and misery, but are remembered only for Christmas. Those people, like the ones who succeeded in life, maybe didn’t have all the tools nor the luck to be able to succeed in life and they are very often misjudged and taken for passive and lazy people. To be honest with you, this is all the time what I hear from my in-laws, who belong to the category of people who escaped from poverty with their own weapons without depending on anyone. They always tend to think that, because they succeeded through the fruit of their own sacrifices, everybody should follow them as an example. This is not true. See the videoclip from The Script’s “Superhero” and all what I wrote about them in my blog post “Johannesburg Superheroes“. Did that brave single father choose to live in poor conditions and to lie to his daughter about his true situation as a scavenger, pretending that he was working in an office, only to hide to his daughter the truth about his situation to be able to see a smile upon her face when he comes back home? No he didn’t. Did those people living in poor conditions in Mauritius choose to live like that, with all their dreams shattered away despite their long fight to survive? No, they didn’t. Alike that South African father, those people living in poor conditions did their very best to fight in life for having an earning, but they didn’t have the appropriate tools nor support from others to be able to survive and to make progress in life. The story of the little match girl perfectly represents those same people: As per the summary, she is sent in the cold winter by her violent father to sell matches for an earning, since it was the only source of revenue which may perhaps help them surviving. Did the little girl choose that kind of life? No she didn’t. And instead, through those matches she saw so many lovely dreams in front of the match lights such as a wonderful Christmas meal, a Christmas tree, children playing together in the snow etc. But no one paid attention about her dreams because they were too selfish doing their Christmas shopping for their loved ones that they didn’t even care about her own situation as a poor girl, nor about her struggle face to her violent father. And when she died, it was too late, because people may have pitied her, but no one did even care about her dreams behind those matches. I saw so many people living in those conditions as well in Madagascar and in South Africa by trying to sell their stuffs in the streets for an earning, but with increase of insecurity, people were scared to approach them since people feared having business with dealers. Even my husband and I, to be honest, as expatriates in Madagascar and as tourists in South Africa, we thought exactly the same way. But who could guess that behind those people there was the soul of that same little match girl within them?

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However, sharing and caring also has its medal reverse. I was looking for some meanings on Quora and then I saw an answer to the question “What does sharing is caring mean?” There was an answer which attracted my attention, and which reminded me about a good friend of mine who focussed on the point of sharing so much but not receiving anything in return:

At first, that seemed like a pretty simple question to answer. But I just now gave it a bit more thought. Simply put, if one shares, surely one cares. But that’s not so simple, depending, for one, on what it is you’re sharing. Food, shelter, clothing, your time, your money – those are good sharing examples. But say you share high sugar candy with someone you know is a diabetic – that’s not caring. The same for sharing hard-core drugs with an addict, a young person, anyone not on their death bed; that action could lead to dire consequences regarding health, life in general, time in jail. Another form of negative sharing doesn’t have such awful outcomes for the recipient – in fact, no bad outcomes. But it may have negative results for the giver’s subconscious, for their karma, and how they want to be viewed by their society. If you’re in church, as an example, and the offering plate has begun its rounds, you make very sure that everyone sees you writing a check, as opposed to having it ready before services, and that you place the check face-up in the plate as it passes by you. That’s outwardly egotistical; you want anyone who sees that check to know you as a very generous person, especially if the check is substantial compared to others. Inwardly, your heart may swell a bit, but not as much as your head, and at the same time your “true self” realizes the real “why” of your generous donation. So, sharing for a knowable good is always good, but maybe not always for the giver. I try to remember that real altruism means that one gives without any reward from society, including recognition. That’s real caring. “You are what you think,” said Siddhartha Gautama.

Unfortunately I have completely lost the historic of the conversation I had with my friend on LinkedIn, but I remember that my friend told me having created a group on Facebook on which each member would help each other in an equal way to cultivate solidarity with each other, but very few unfortunately replied to his request and the group didn’t succeed. He also mentioned about a Pakistani friend of his who tried to do the same thing through a group she created, and which unfortunately failed and brought to her lots of deceptions. It’s true that sharing and caring can be a good thing, but not all the time. Like Michael Jackson sung in “Heal the World”, “Love is strong, it only cares of joyful givings”. Another type of negative sharing that I have known is among my family and my in-laws. I remember how some family members who succeeded in life tend to be generous only with the ones who succeeded in life, and not the ones who were rejected from the family. My parents, for example, who were among the richest family members in the patriarchal one, never invited some of my family members because they were living in poor conditions and underestimated. My father-in-law always keeps on being generous with those who stab him behind his back instead of being generous with my mother-in-law and even with my husband, who is the only child who takes care of him and who provides him financial help regularly, and this with my total approval, but in return he is never generous with us, and favors my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law more than they do for us and for my mother-in-law. But I firmly believe in Karma, and the way my parents and my father-in-law discriminate others is returning against themselves. In my case, one family member of mine became close friends with me after 20 years, and she was among the ones everyone rejected because of her dark skin and poor condition living. But as well as she was rejected from the family, as well today she is praised in her new home country UK, since they love her skin color and succeeded in life professionally and materially. She kept on sharing and caring all the time despite her success, but instead of appreciating her, everyone kept on underestimating her and misusing her. But though I have nothing to give her materially, I have at least my caring left, and I understood on how caring for her is a lesson that my family members never taught me and that I had to be taught on my own. For my father-in-law, for the moment I didn’t have any signs for his discriminatory way of sharing, but I am convinced that one day it will go against him when it comes on caring, since he kept on sharing with the bad ones instead of the good ones, and same thing applied as well when it came on caring.

Indeed the fact that those youngsters from YUVA are generously donating with a kind heart, maybe they won’t receive the same help in return, but they will be blessed in other ways in the future. So keep on sharing and caring… But don’t do it in a discriminatory way because every human being is equal. If you have that true spirit of sharing and caring, do it with everyone, the rich, the middle and the poor. Do it as well with the educated and the illiterate. Do it as well with the healthy and the disabled. But if you have that discriminatory spirit, then better don’t share nor care at all.

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Saturday Morning in Johannesburg and Soweto – RSA

A DREAMY WEEKEND IN JOHANNESBURG

During the weekend from Friday 01st to Sunday 03rd April 2016, since our son was on holidays in Mauritius with his paternal grandparents, my husband and I decided to spend a weekend in Johannesburg, South Africa. We departed from the Seychelles via an Air Seychelles flight at 09.30.am, local Seychelles time, and we reached Johannesburg after 4 hours of flight, during which we had a good meal on board and I could take some rest, because of my left ear which was causing me pain despite the medicines. But despite that ache, I didn’t care since we landed there. After we collected our luggage, a hotel driver welcomed us and brought us to the Protea Hotel in the province of Gauteng, where we had a wonderful stay, service and meals.

But the most interesting day I had during our short stay in Johannesburg was the whole Saturday morning, during which we roamed in the City Centre of Johannesburg, and also in several unknown places and regions, and we also had the pleasure to discover Soweto for the very first time.

A GLIMPSE ON THE HISTORY OF JOHANNESBURG

We started with a glimpse of the history of Johannesburg, especially known as a land of gold and the birth of the name of the town. The Wikipedia information below confirm whatever the tour operator told us about those two details

The main Witwatersrand gold reef was discovered in June 1884 on the farm Vogelstruisfontein by Jan Gerritse Bantjes that triggered the Witwatersrand Gold Rush and the start of Johannesburg in 1886. The discovery of gold rapidly attracted people to the area, making necessary a name and governmental organisation for the area. Johann and Johannes were common male names among the Dutch of that time; two men involved in surveying the area for the best location of the city, Christian Johannes Joubert and Johann Rissik, are considered the source of the name by some. Johannes Meyer, the first government official in the area is another possibility. Precise records for the choice of name were lost.[13] Within ten years, the city of Johannesburg included 100,000 people.[17]

In September 1884 the Struben brothers discovered the Confidence Reef on the farm Wilgespruit near present-day Roodepoort, which further boosted excitement over gold prospects. The first gold to be crushed on the Witwatersrand was the gold-bearing rock from the Bantjes mine crushed using the Struben brothers stamp machine. Also, news of the discovery soon reached Kimberley and directors Cecil Rhodes with Sir Joseph Robinson rode up to investigate rumours for themselves. They were guided to the Bantjes camp with its tents strung out over several kilometres and stayed with Bantjes for two nights.

In 1884 they purchased the first pure refined gold from Bantjes for £3000. Incidentally, Bantjes had since 1881 been operating the Kromdraai Gold Mine in the Cradle of Humankind together with his partner Johannes Stephanus Minnaar where they first discovered gold in 1881, and which also offered another kind of discovery – the early ancestors of all mankind.[citation needed] Some report Australian George Harrison as the first to make a claim for gold in the area that became Johannesburg, as he found gold on a farm in July 1886. He did not stay in the area.[18]

Gold was earlier discovered some 400 kilometres (249 miles) to the east of present-day Johannesburg, in BarbertonGold prospectors soon discovered the richer gold reefs of the Witwatersrand offered by Bantjes. The original miners’ camp, under the informal leadership of Col Ignatius Ferreira, was located in the Fordsburg dip, possibly because water was available there, and because of the site’s proximity to the diggings. Following upon the establishment of Johannesburg, the area was taken over by the Government who had it surveyed and named it Ferreira’s Township, today the suburb of Ferreirasdorp. The first settlement at Ferreira’s Camp was established as a tented camp and which soon reached a population of 3,000 by 1887.[17] The government took over the Ferreira’s camp, surveyed it and named it as Ferreira’s Township.[19] By 1896 Johannesburg was established as a city of over 100,000 inhabitants, one of the fastest growth cities ever.

But what we mostly appreciated in that historical part of the city was when the tour guide mentioned that millions of years ago, there was a meteorite which fell on the place where the town of Johannesburg would be born millions of years later, and which brought those particles of gold in that city. But when I checked that information through some personal researches, the only source I could obtain was about the Vredefort Dome, but which didn’t directly concern South Africa: http://www.southafrica.info/about/geography/vredefort-080605.HTML#.VwVF0Pl97IU

We cannot forget about the richness of South Africa without mentioning Paul Kruger, and how he had been defeated since President Thomas Francois Burgers was elected President of South Africa, which brought Paul Kruger to be dismayed and which was one of the reasons of the battle against the Dutch regarding gold and diamond Here are some Wikipedia extracts also regarding the start of the defeat of Paul Kruger: Burgers busied himself attempting to modernise the South African Republic along European lines, hoping to set in motion a process that would lead to a united, independent South Africa. Finding Boer officialdom inadequate, he imported ministers and civil servants en mass from the Netherlands. His ascent to the presidency came shortly after the realisation that the Boer republics might stand on land of immense mineral wealth. Diamonds had been discovered in Griqua territory just north of the Orange River on the western edge of the Free State, arousing the interest of Britain and other countries; mostly British settlers, referred to by the Boers as uitlanders (“out-landers”), were flooding into the region.[71] Britain began to pursue federation of the Boer republics with the Cape and Natal and in 1873, over Boer objections, annexed the area surrounding the huge diamond mine at Kimberley, dubbing it Griqualand West. 

Nonetheless, the visit in general was announced as interesting and enriching, since we had the opportunity to visit several interesting places.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF JOHANNESBURG

While we were still in Gauteng, we arrived at the Constitutional Court of South Africa, a historic building fully made with red bricks. The very first thing which captivated my attention was the Flame of Democracy, which, according to the tour guide, remained lit 24/7, with a plaque showing a text illustrating the holiness of that flame of democracy. Here is its meaning I retrieved in an article defining it properly: The 16th of December 2011 marked the 15th anniversary of the signing of South Africa’s new constitution. To commemorate this auspicious occasion, a Flame of Democracy was implemented. The installation is housed at the threshold of the historic Awaiting Trial Toer along its east-west axis to the Constitutional Court entrance – this siting directly references the South African journey toward democracy. Comprising of an eternal flame and column of light – visible throughout the city – their symbolism stands in stark contrast to the doorway of the towers through which prisoners once passed.

I also snapped a wooden column with some sculptures on it, showing some messages derived from sign language from the deaf and mute people, who also had their part of importance in the constitution, and a colourful message in Afrikaans regarding that constitution, for which though I couldn’t retrieve some concrete sources. But to come to the deaf and mute, its importance was illustrated among the main prisoner portraits ornating the wall of the Constitutional Court of Johannesburg and who left their footprint in the history of that wonderful town. Here is the extract of the briefing by Deaf Federation of South Africa, dated 16th February 2007, recognising the South African Sign Language as an Official Language I quote: “The Deaf Federation of South Africa stated that it was approaching the Committee as a suggested first step in its quest to have South African Sign Language recognised as the twelfth official language of South Africa. Deaf SA represented around one million deaf and hard of hearing people in South Africa, for whom sign language was a first language. They were hindered from access because, although deaf schools were now finally teaching sign language, rather than trying to teach speech, and although the Schools Act had granted recognition for education purposes to sign language, it was still not officially recognised, which meant that other departments, institutions, media and facilities did not support such language. Deaf SA tabled other countries where official recognition was given and sought

Members raised questions on what sign language entailed, whether there were dialects, whether the language was universal to all deaf South Africans, and the numbers of profoundly deaf people for whom there were no options other than sign language as a means of communication Several members were concerned about the practical implications of the proposals, particularly for schooling, media and the courts. Questions also addressed access to translators and schools.

The Committee resolved to discuss the matter again in two weeks time. Deaf SA was asked to provide some further details.

The Committee would be meeting with a delegation from the German Parliament on 13 March to discuss the functioning of the Committee and constitutional changes made since 1996. A meeting on the submission proposing an increased Free State legislature would be convened once feedback had been obtained from the Western Cape legislature.

Here were the other prisoners, whose portrait ornates that same wall of prisoners and some references and extracts about their lives and their fight and activism against Apartheid and, for some of them, within the African National Congress (ANC):

– Christian De Wet :

De Wet took an active part in the peace negotiations of 1902. Briefly (30 to 31 May) he took on the role of Acting State President of the Orange Free State, when President Steyn had to leave the negotiations due to illness. De Wet was one of the signatories of theTreaty of Vereeniging. At the conclusion of the war he visited Europe with other Boer generals. While in England the generals unsuccessfully sought a modification of the peace terms concluded in Pretoria. De Wet wrote an account of his campaigns, an English version of which appeared in November 1902 under the title De Stryd tusschen Boer en Brit (Three Years War). In November 1907, he was elected a member of the first parliament of the Orange River Colony and was appointed minister of agriculture. In 1908-9 he was a delegate to the Closer Union Convention.[2]

De Wet was one of the leaders of the Maritz Rebellion which broke out in 1914. He was defeated at Mushroom Valley by General Botha on 12 November 1914, taken prisoner by Colonel Brits on 1 December, and sentenced to a term of six years imprisonment, with a fine of £2000. He was released after one year’s imprisonment, after giving a written promise to take no further part in politics.

De Wet progressively weakened and at length, on 3 February 1922, he died on his farm. General Smuts, who had become Prime Minister, cabled his widow: ‘A prince and a great man has fallen today.’ De Wet was given a state funeral in Bloemfontein and buried next to President Steyn and Emily Hobhouseat the foot of the memorial to the women and children who died in the concentration camps. On the hundredth anniversary of his birth, a bronze equestrian statue, by Coert Steynberg, was unveiled at the Raadzaal in Bloemfontein

– Mahatma Gandhi (more details about his imprisonment in South Africa on http://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/mahatma-Gandhi-arrested-first-time)

– Albertina Sisulu, on whom the tour guide said that she was the one behind Mandela’s success: “Sisulu was co-president of the biggest internal anti-apartheid grouping of the 1980s, the United Democratic Front (UDF). Her husband, Walter, the man who brought Nelson Mandela into politics, served as secretary-general of the African National Congress (ANC) before going underground and hiding out at a farm at Rivonia, near Johannesburg, then being captured and sentenced to life imprisonment with Nelson Mandela and other ANC leaders.” . As per what I understood from the tour guide, Sisulu’s house was a secret area in which she was secretly meeting members of ANC and South African Indian Campaign, especially in 1951 (Source: http://www.sahistory.org.za/topic/Albertina-sisulu-time line-1918-2011).

– Robert Sobukwe (Source: http://www.southafrica.info/about/history/Robert-sobukwe-overview.HTML#.VwVOFvl97IU): I have no specific extracts to show for that wonderful man since the whole article is worth to be read thanks to his inspirational speeches and quotes.

– Oliver Tambo:

During his early years with the ANC Oliver Tambo was directly responsible for organising active guerrilla units. Along with his cohorts Nelson Mandela, Joe Slovo, and Walter Sisulu; Tambo directed and facilitated several attacks against unarmed civilians. Of which one of the most notable was the Church Street bombing on 20 May 1983, which resulted in the death of 19 civilians and the wounding of a further 217. In submissions to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1997 and 1998, the ANC revealed that the attack was orchestrated by a special operations unit of the ANC’s Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), commanded by Aboobaker Ismail. Such units had been authorised by Oliver Tambo, the ANC President, in 1979. At the time of the attack, they reported to Joe Slovo as chief of staff, and the Church Street attack was authorised by Tambo.

The ANC’s submission said that the bombing was in response to a South African cross-border raid into Lesotho in December 1982 which killed 42 ANC supporters and civilians, and the assassination of Ruth First, an ANC activist and wife of Joe Slovo, in Maputo, Mozambique. It claimed that 11 of the casualties were SAAF personnel and hence a military target. The legal representative of some of the victims argued that as administrative staff including telephonists and typists they could not accept that they were a legitimate military target.

Ten MK operatives including Aboobaker Ismail applied for amnesty for this and other bombings. The applications were opposed on various grounds, including that it was a terrorist attack disproportionate to the political motive. The TRC found that the number of civilians versus military personnel killed was unclear. South African Police statistics indicated that 7 members of the SAAF were killed. The commission found that at least 84 of the injured were SAAF members or employees. Amnesty was granted by the TRC.

– Albert Luthuli :

Awarded the Nobel Peace Price in 1960, Luthuli was allowed to travel to Oslo to receive the award the following year.

In his acceptance speech on 10 December 1961, Luthuli said: “It can only be on behalf of the people of South Africa, all the people of South Africa, especially the freedom-loving people, that I accept this award, that I acknowledge this honour. I accept it also as an honour not only to South Africa, but for the whole continent of Africa …

“Quite long ago my forefathers extended a hand of friendship to people of Europe when they came to that continent. What has happened to the extension of that hand only history can say, and it is not time to speak about that here, but I would like to say, as I receive this Price of peace, that the hand of Africa was extended. It was a hand of friendship, if you read history.”

In his Nobel lecture, delivered at the University of Oslo on the following day, Luthuli said: “How easy it would have been in South Africa for the natural feelings of resentment at white domination to have been turned into feelings of hatred and a desire for revenge against the white community.

“Here, where every day, in every aspect of life every nonwhite comes up against the ubiquitous sign ‘Europeans Only’ and the equally ubiquitous policeman to enforce it – here it could well be expected that a racialism equal to that of their oppressors would flourish to counter the white arrogance toward blacks.

“That it has not done so is no accident. It is because, deliberately and advisedly, African leadership for the past fifty years, with the inspiration of the African National Congress, which I had the honour to lead for the last decade or so until it was banned, had set itself steadfastly against racial vain gloriousness.

“We know that in so doing we passed up opportunities for an easy demagogic appeal to the natural passions of a people denied freedom and liberty; we discarded the chance of an easy and expedient emotional appeal.

“Our vision has always been that of a nonracial, democratic South Africa which upholds the rights of all who live in our country to remain there as full citizens, with equal rights and responsibilities with all others. For the consummation of this ideal we have laboured unflinchingly. We shall continue to labour unflinchingly.”

At the end of his lecture, after much applause, Luthuli sang the African anthem, “Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika”.

On 21 July 1967, while taking a walk near his Natal home, Luthuli was killed, reportedly when he was struck by a train.

– Joe Slovo:

Slovo was a leading theoretician in both the SACP and the ANC. In the 1970s he wrote the influential essay No Middle Road which stated that the apartheid government would be unable either to achieve stability or to co-opt significant sections of the small but growing black middle class – in other words the only choice was between the overthrow of apartheid or ever greater repression. At the time the SACP’s orthodox pro-Soviet and stage-ist view of change in South Africa was dominant in the ANC-led liberation movement.

Being Jewish and a Communist, Slovo was a demonised figure on the far right of Afrikaner society.

In 1989, he wrote “Has Socialism Failed?” which acknowledged the weaknesses of the socialist movement and the excesses of Stalinism, while at the same time rejecting attempts by the left to distance themselves from socialism. Slovo died in 1995 of cancer. In 2004 he was voted 47th in the Top 100 Great South Africans.

It was he who in 1992 proposed the breakthrough in the negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa with the “sunset clause” for a coalition government for the five years following a democratic election, including guarantees and concessions to all sides.

After the elections of 1994 he became Minister for housing in Nelson Mandela‘s government, until his death in 1995. His funeral was attended by the entire high command of the ANC, and by most of the highest officials in the country, including both Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

– Fatima Meer:

In 1946, Meer joined many other South African Indians in a passive resistance campaign against apartheid, during which she started the Student Passive Resistance Committee. She also helped to establish the Durban District Women’s League, an organisation started in order to build alliances between Africans and Indians as a result of the race riotsbetween the two groups in 1949.

After the National Party gained power in 1948 and started implementing their policy of apartheid, Meer’s activism increased; she was one of the founding members of the Federation of South African Women, which spearheaded the historical women’s march on the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956. As a result of her activism, Meer was first “banned” in 1952 (“banning” was a government practise that, among other things, limited the number of people a person could meet at any one time as well as a person’s movements and also prohibited a person from being published).[citation needed]

In the 1960s, she organised night vigils to protest against the mass detention of anti-apartheid activists without trial. During the 1970s she was again banned and later detained without trial for trying to organise a political rally with Black Consciousness Movement figure Steve Biko. She narrowly survived an assassination attempt shortly after her release from detention in 1976 when she was shot at her family home in Durban, but luckily not harmed. Her son, Rashid, went into exile in the same year. She was attacked again and blamed the second attack on the Black Consciousness Movement.[3]

She was a strong supporter of the Iranian Revolution and boycotted Salman Rushdie‘s trip to South Africa in 1998 claiming that he was a blasphemer.

– Sheila Weinberg

Weinberg was involved in her parents’ activism from an early age. She painted slogans and was involved in ANC and SACP activities after the organisations were banned in 1960. Both parents suffered periods of detention and exile for their political activities and during this time the young Weinberg was looked after by another activist, Helen Joseph.

In 1964, Weinberg was detained for the first time and held at the Johannesburg Fort prison under the 90 day Detention Act. At 19 years old, she was the youngest detainee in South Africa at the time. With her mother in a cell close by, Weinberg was held for 65 days and released without charge. She later served a jail term for painting a pro-ANC slogan on a public building.

– Lilian Ngoyi

She joined the ANC Women’s League in 1952; she was at that stage a widow with two children and an elderly mother to support, and worked as a seamstress. A year later she was elected as President of the Women’s League. On 9 August 1956, Ngoyi led a march along with Helen JosephRahima MoosaSophia Williams-De BruynMotlalepula ChabakuBertha Gxowa and Albertina Sisulu of 20,000 women to the Union Buildings of Pretoria in protest against the apartheid government requiring women to carry passbooks as part of the pass laws.

Lilian Ngoyi was also a transnational figure who recognised the potential influence that international support could have on the struggle against apartheid and the emancipation of black women. With this in mind she embarked on an audacious (and highly illegal) journey to Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1955 to participate in the World Congress of Mothers held by the Women’s International Democratic Federation (WIDF). Accompanied by her fellow activist Dora Tamana, and as an official delegate of FEDSAW, she embarked on a journey that would see an attempt to stow away on a boat leaving Cape Town under “white names”, defy (with the help of a sympathetic pilot) segregated seating on a plane bound for London and gain entry to Britain under the pretext of completing her course in bible studies. With Tamana, she would visit England, Germany, Switzerland, Roumania, China and Russia, meeting women leaders often engaged in left-wing politics, before arriving back in South Africa a wanted woman.[6]

Ngoyi was not an intellectual, rather she was known as a strong orator and a fiery inspiration to many of her colleagues in the ANC. She was arrested in 1956, spent 71 days in solitary confinement, and was for a period of 11 years placed under severe bans and restrictions that often confined to her home in Orlando, Soweto.

– Nico Smith

In 1981, Smith could no longer keep his membership in the Afrikaner Broederbond in good conscience. He quit, and compared it to social suicide — many of his “friends” suddenly wanted nothing to do with him.[1] Smith began aggressively challenging apartheid in his classes, which drew the ire of his superiors who wanted him to “Teach theory, not conclusions.”[1] Smith joined public protests against the government’s bulldozing of squatter shacks in Cape Town, and he was called before a church commission to justify himself. Smith decided to resign his professorship and leave the DRC to join its separate coloured branch, the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa. Smith, together with his wife Ellen, became an anti-apartheid activist from that point onward. He began preaching in Mamelodi in 1982, a suburb of Pretoria designated for non-whites only at the time due to theGroup Areas Act. Smith eventually received rare permission from the South African government to live there in 1985, making him and his wife the only whites allowed to live in the area.[2] In Mamelodi, he not only acted as minister, but also as a community organiser and civic planner.[1] To encourage integration and interaction between the separated communities, he organised a further swap in 1988 — 170 whites moved into Mamelodi to live with black families, while 35 blacks lived in white homes in the suburbs of Pretoria. The exchange lasted four days.[2] At the time, few whites knew how blacks lived due to strict segregation rules. Black neighbourhoods were avoided and perceived as dangerous. Smith explained that he ran the swap because “White fear is one of the great barriers to understanding and progress in this country… But over the past two years there has been an increasing realisation by whites of the depth and the degree of black anger.”[3] The swap was attacked as “designed to promote Marxist doctrine”,[4] as nearly any opposition to apartheid was called a communist plot to destabilise the country. Smith also demanded an investigation into suspicious murders of anti-apartheid activists.[5]

In 1989, he moved back to a white suburb of Pretoria.[2] Smith’s South African model of the in-home meal and story sharing earned the 1989 Beyond War Award,[6] and inspired the sustained Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group in the United States.

– Finally, Nelson Mandela, the most popular of all, for which there is a complete article I am proposing and which is worth being read fully: http://www.morningsidecenter.org/teachable-moment/lessons/nelson-Mandela-fight-against-apartheid

After I snapped those pictures, I paid attention on a sculpture, “History” made by South African artist Dumile Ferni. I didn’t really have any information regarding that sculpture, but the way it has been made is a representation of the tragic part of apartheid, during which the Whites were dominating the Non Whites, treating them like animals, like that Black man pulling a chariot on which two uptown men, who seemed to be white men, were comfortably sitting. Regarding the artist himself, here are some interesting extracts I found on that link and how, through his masterpieces, he became a visionary of the tragedy behind apartheid (Source: http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/dumile-feni): ”

Described while in Johannesburg as the ‘Goya of the townships’, Dumile found his subject matter in the life and events he observed around him. Working primarily with graphic art in monochromatic hues, the artist had the ability and vision to transform the particular into the universal. His works also reflect his deep love of music, especially jazz. And even the disposition of the figures on the page is invested with musical rhythm.

Dumile was also an exceptionally gifted sculptor, skill that is clearly expressed in his art. Though executed entirely in a linear fashion, many of his drawings have a profound sculptural quality. The Study for the portrait of Albert Luthuli is an excellent example of this. It does not attempt to depict the final three-dimensional sculpture; instead, the drawing itself has intrinsic attributes to sculpture.

Albert Luthuli was a Zulu chief, teacher and religious leader that became president of the African National Congress from 1952 to 1967, and was the first African winner of the Nobel Peace Price for his efforts in waging a non-violent campaign against racial discrimination in South Africa. While in London, Dumile began working on this subject. Eventually he completed at least a drawing and two bronzes of this African icon. Dumile’s portraits are not conventional. And the Luthuli project is no exception. Rather than depicting naturalistic likeness, both the drawing and the sculptures are symbolic portraits of a great leader and a wise and noble man.

Dumile succeeded in imbuing his work with feelings of deep sympathy and humanity. As Justice Albie Sachs has pointed out, Dumile’s work embodies the ideals and values which we cherish in a democratic South Africa and which are enshrined in our Bill of Rights.

Then, we came inside the Constitutional Court, and one detail which astonished me was the representation of the chart of “Justice under a tree”. According to my personal researches, I found a small extract where the tree logo was chosen as a symbol of protection alike the constitution, I quote: (Source: http://www.constitutionalcourt.org.za/site/thecourt/thelogo.htm)

It depicts people sheltering under a canopy of branches – a representation of the Constitution’s protective role and a reference to a theme that runs though the Court, that of justice under a tree. The idea comes from traditional African societies: this was where people would meet to resolve disputes.

(…)

The symbol chosen in the end was the tree – something that protects, just like the Constitution. But this tree does not stand alone in the logo: it is sheltering people who have gathered under its branches.

Initially, it seemed, there were two options: people or a tree. Now it became one concept: a crowd of people standing beneath the tree, encapsulated in a circle. The department of public works then turned Parton’s logo into the large brass relief plaque that is now a compelling feature of the building.

Maybe this is why there are some benches inside the court, made with small tree trunks to symbolise that tree. According to the tour guide, the tree chosen was the baobab but I couldn’t find some sources to justify the nature of that tree. What also attracted my attention was the way the constitutional court was made with those old red bricks. According to Wikipedia, I quote: “The court building itself was built using bricks from the demolished awaiting-trial wing of the former prison.” (Source: HTTP://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_Hill,_Johannesburg#The_Constitutional_Court )

No one can really explain why the red bricks were chosen to build the Constitutional Court, but according to my conversation with the tour guide on that subject, maybe it was because of the bloodshed spread by all the prisoners and victims of apartheid that the red colour was chosen. Yet it remains an interesting point on which we should focus later.

Another detail caught my attention, regarding a small plaque on which it was written about the songs sung by the prisoners of the Old Fort Prison Complex near the Constitution Hill. According to that extract, I quote, Communal Cells: Overcrowded, dirty and badly ventilated cells lit by a small window only, was only a part of the brutal detention conditions. Ironically as authorities tried to break prisoners down, these communal cells became an area to build courage and discuss resistance including singing resistance songs to entertain, comfort and maintain solidarity. This was also used to defy the authorities.

THE OTHER FACADE OF JOHANNESBURG THAT TOURISTS DON’T WANT TO SEE, AND WHICH IS A SAD REALITY EXISTING

When we left the Constitutional Hill, we continued our town roaming and then the driver sent us to Hillbrow, a residential city near Johannesburg. I was very shocked seeing the contrast between the luxury of the multi-cultural areas of Johannesburg, with the extreme disorder and poverty within that city, for which most of the immigrants are illegal ones from other African countries such as Rwanda, Nigeria, etc, and who also live and operate in that city as illegal workers. I remember even, for example, about the tour guide who mentioned the Nigerian immigrants of that suburb mostly known for prostitution traffic there. Here are some extracts I found regarding Hillbrow’s story:

Hillbrow is an inner city residential neighbourhood of JohannesburgGauteng ProvinceSouth Africa. It is known for its high levels of population density, unemployment, poverty and crime.

In the 1970s it was an Apartheid-designated “whites only” area but soon became a “grey area”, where people of different ethnicity lived together. It acquired a cosmopolitan and politically progressive feel, and was one of the first identifiable gay and lesbian areas in urban South Africa. However, due to poor planning its infrastructure could not cope with the rapid population growth.[2] This, together with lack of investment led to an exodus of middle class residents in the 1980s and the decay of major buildings, leaving in its wake an urban slum by the 1990s.[3]

Today, the majority of the residents are migrants from the townships, rural areas and the rest of Africa, many living in abject poverty. An urban regeneration programme is underway. There are street markets, mainly used by local residents, and the Johannesburg Art Gallery contains work by major local artists including William Kentridge(Source: HTTP://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillbrow)

We also discovered some other curious details a few miles after Hillbrow which attracted our attention. Among them:

– Tekkie Town, a big shopping mall proposing great brands but for affordable prices: http://www.tekkietown.co.za/

– Markham Building (Source: HTTP://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markham_Building)

– The First National Bank (Source: HTTP://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_National_Bank_(South_Africa))

At about the same time, the government of the South African Republic desired to create a local commercial bank, due to the discovery of gold in Barberton and theWitwatersrand. The government thus created a bank through a concession agreement. The task of the bank was to focus primarily on financing agricultural development. A state mint was also established as part of the concession. The National Bank der Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek Beperk (National Bank of the South African Republic Limited) was registered in Pretoria in 1891 and opened its doors for business on 5 April of the same year. After the conclusion of the Second Anglo-Boer War in 1902, the name of this bank was changed to the National Bank of South Africa Limited.

Due to another recession, the Bank of Africa was bought out by the National Bank in 1912, which had already bought out another bank, the National Bank of the Orange River Colony in 1910. The Natal Bank, which was founded in 1854 to fund the Natal Colony‘s sugar industry, also suffered financial difficulties and was taken over in 1914. By this time, the National Bank was now one of the strongest and largest banks in South Africa.

– The Star Newspaper (Source: HTTP://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star_(South_Africa) )

We also drove all over a big sight seeing of gold mines. Among them, the Witwatersrand. I am very happy to write those lines there, since contrary to the beginning of what I wrote before, I didn’t find any concrete researches regarding the meteorite which exploded on that part of South Africa. But here are two extracts I retrieved and which explains the start of existence of gold and other minerals in those mining sites:

1) The vast majority of the Earth’s gold and other heavy metals are locked up in the earth’s core. Evidence from tungstenisotope studies indicates that most gold in the crust is derived from gold in the mantle which resulted from a meteoritebombardment some 3900 million years ago (i.e. at approximately the time that the Kaapvaal craton formed). The gold bearing meteorite events occurred millions of years after the segregation of the earth’s core.[9] The gold in the Witwatersrand Basin area was deposited in Archean river deltas having been washed down from surrounding gold-rich greenstone belts to the north and west. Rheniumosmium isotope studies indicate that the gold in those mineral deposits came from unusual 3000 million year old mantle-derived intrusions known as komatiite, present in the greenstone belts. 

2) Although gold had been discovered in various locations in South Africa, such as Barberton and Pilgrim’s Rest, as well as at several sites near the Witwatersrand, these were alluvial concentrates in contemporary rivers, or in quartz veins, in the form that gold had always been found elsewhere on earth. When George Harrison, probably accompanied by George Walker, found gold on the farm Langlaagte, 5 km west of the city of Johannesburg, in an outcrop of conglomerate rocks, in February 1886, they assumed that this was alluvial gold in an old riverbed, that had been tilted as a result of earth movements.[1][2] However, when it was found that, traced down dip, the conglomerate was not merely developed for the narrow width of a river, but continued in depth, there came the realisation that this conglomerating zone was part of a sedimentary succession.[1] Harrison had stumbled on the Main Reef conglomerate (part of the “Johannesburg Subgroup” of rocks — see illustration above). The conglomerate was quickly traced east and westward for a total continuous distance of 50 km to define what became known as the “Central Rand Gold Field”.

Harrison declared his claim with the then-government of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR), and in September 1886 President Paul Kruger issued a proclamation declaring nine farms public mining diggings, starting on 20 September 1886.[2] This heralded the historic Witwatersrand Gold Rush. Harrison is believed to have sold his claim for less than £10 before leaving the area, and he was never heard from again. Harrison’s original “Zoekers” (in English: seeker’s, or prospector’s) Claim No 19 was declared a national monument in 1944, and named Harrison’s Park.[11] The park is on the busy Main Reef Road, immediately west of Nasrec Road.[2] In 1887 Cecil John Rhodes registered “The Gold Fields of South Africa” in London, South Africa’s first mining house, with a capital of £250 000. His brother Thomas was the first chairman.

– Another place which is worth to be discovered, the 11 Diagonal Street Building of Gauteng. The most interesting aspect behind the history of that building is summarised in that extract, I quote: Diagonal Street and its surrounds developed into a racially mixed area in which trading continued despite the prescriptive Gold Law of 1908 and the Asiatic Land Tenure and Trading Amendment Act of 1919, which restricted land acquisition, trading and occupancy rights. Lack of enforcement of these laws was partly due to the fact that the town centre had shifted eastwards towards Rissik and Eloff streets, allowing marginalised races and religions to create the eclectic culture of Diagonal Street. (Source: http://www.gauteng.net/attractions/diagonal_street)

– The SAB World Beer (Source: http://www.worldofbeer.co.za/experiences/category/the-tour ) relating the history of beer worldwide and then in South Africa. The most details regarding South African beers will mostly been retrieved by booking for a tour from that site. But you can meanwhile find more details about the South African beer by clicking on the “More Info” under the paragraphs “Green Fields”, “Beer in the Cape”, “Heritage Hall” and “Soweto Shebeen”. While visiting Soweto, as per my notes you will retrieve later, the tour guide gave us a dark version about the damages that the Soweto Shebeen was causing to the Soweto population. However, I haven’t really understood the tour guider’s explanations about the local beer but according to what I understood, and what I need to check afterwards, there was a time where Soweto people were consuming a beer which was made with Soka, and that product was causing some disorders and brought people into committing violence. But I couldn’t find any information justifying that piece of information the tour guide shared with us, unless I come back to Johannesburg for more clearings about that point. But I found some information regarding the illegal shebeens the tour guide mentioned about and still illegally operating in Soweto by Shebeen queens (Source: HTTP://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shebeen#South_Africa)

Before we reached Soweto, the tour guide mentioned about Gauteng being a point of departure for Johannesburg people as a place of gold, as conclusion for what we already visited. Here is an extract about the province of Gauteng from which the capital city Johannesburg detains its incredible richness, not only for gold but also when it comes on lifestyle, education, economy, etc, I quote:

With a total area of 16 548 square kilometres, Gauteng is slightly smaller than the US state of New Jersey. While it’s the country’s smallest province, it has the largest population, and by far the highest population density – around 675 people per square kilometre. (The Northern Cape, by comparison, has an average of around three people per square kilometre.)

A summer-rainfall area, Gauteng has hot summers and cold winters with frost. Hail is common during summer thunderstorms.

The people of Gauteng have the highest per capita income level in the country. The province blends cultures, colours and first and third-world traditions in a spirited mix, flavoured by a number of foreign influences. The world’s languages can be heard on the streets and in offices, from English to Mandarin, Swahili, French, German and more.

The province has the most important educational and health centres in the country. Pretoria boasts the largest residential university in South Africa, the University of Pretoria, and what is believed to be the largest correspondence university in the world, the University of South Africa, or Unisa.

Most of South Africa’s research and development takes place in Gauteng, which is home to many of the country’s core biotechnology companies. Leading research institutions such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Agricultural Research Council and the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute are based there.

Although the province is highly urbanised and industrialised, it contains wetlands of international importance, such as Blesbokspruit near Springs.

And it’s home to the Cradle of Humankind, one of South Africa’s eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. The region of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and environs has one of the world’s richest concentrations of hominid fossils, evidence of human evolution over the past 3.5-million years.

SOWETO: SOWETO GO NOW (SO WHERE TO GO NOW?) ?

Our tour guide was the very first person who taught us that slogan “Soweto go now?” which is a parody of “So, where to go now?” But I don’t really remember what he meant through that quote and couldn’t find any information behind that slogan. Nonetheless, here are some interesting points that we have discovered about Soweto, for which you can retrieve those complete details on HTTP://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soweto .

Through that Journey to Soweto, we have learnt a lot of interesting facts which really make of Soweto a rich destination:

– The first thing we snapped when we arrived there was a sort of electric central in the shape of a freestanding house, but when I did more researches about it, I didn’t find anything and I hope to have more clearing about it during my next trip to Soweto. However, regarding the Soweto Power Plant also known as the Orlando Power Station, according to our tour guide, it was one of the monuments which was messed by the students during apartheid, since they were protesting to learn English and not Afrikaans, since that language was a symbol of South African discrimination, but I haven’t found any sources justifying that information.

– As we are mentioning about the student rebellions during Apartheid, as I wrote previously, according to our tour guide, the Black students of South Africa wanted to learn English but they didn’t have the right to learn English and were forced to learn Afrikaans language instead, like written in that extract, I quote (Source: http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/south-Africa/language-policy-and-oppression-south-Africa)

In 1955, a policy of teaching in both English and Afrikaans on a 50-50 basis in the secondary schools was adopted. However, the shortage of black teachers proficient in Afrikaans (all teacher training schools for blacks are in English) allowed this policy to be carried out in only 26% of the schools. In 1976 the black Africans’ hatred of apartheid, and of Afrikaans as the “language of the oppressor,” came to a head in Soweto, a black “township” outside of Johannesburg. A school board there was dismissed in early February for resisting the imposition of Afrikaans. Protest began at that school and swelled over a period of months to the other schools, with the support of teachers, parents, and students.

On 16 June, 15,000 students marched in the streets carrying banners with such slogans as “Blacks are not dustbins – Afrikaans stinks.” At one point police opened fire on a group of these students starting a chain of violence in Soweto that lasted some months and left 172 blacks, many of them in their teens, killed by police bullets. The revolt touched almost every city and village in South Africa that year, reaching far beyond the language issue. Strikes closed businesses and industry, and in Soweto, the government-instituted Bantu Council was forced to resign.

But it seemed that the rebellion of students against Afrikaans learning was still getting on, even after end of Apartheid, like demonstrated in that video on the link http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/09/south-African-students-protest-Afrikaans-150902065344452.HTML. What is crazy, though, is that while South African students protest against Afrikaans learning, other countries are fond of wanting to learn that language, which they consider as the easiest language they ever learnt in life, like demonstrated in that article on link http://www.pagef30.com/2010/12/why-Afrikaans-is-also-easiest-language.HTML. I even saw a forum discussion on the link http://www.justlanded.com/English/South-Africa/Forums/Language/learn-Afrikaans and what was very shocking was about the ignorance of people behind their will of learning Afrikaans. It reminded me about a school friend of mine who was preparing her Baccalaureate exam in Linguistics and who chose Afrikaans as an additional subject for her exams. The question that I am asking myself though, though I didn’t find any sources on Google about that matter: The fact that foreign people want to learn Afrikaans without knowing about the tragic history behind the Afrikaans language, is that purely ignorance or is that directly or indirectly a sort of insult and offense to the Black South African people?

One of the biggest monuments and sites to visit regarding the students protests against Afrikaans and where we would end our trip later would be the Hector Pieterson Memorial. But before going there, the tour guide, still within the framework of the students rebellion against Afrikaans language, showed us two other monuments which were damaged by the students during the rebellion. The first one was the Regina Mundi Catholic Church of Soweto, which, according to the tour guide, was used by students for boycotting instead of going to school, like demonstrated in that extract, I quote ):

Regina Mundi played a pivotal role in the struggle against apartheid in the second half of the 20th century.[2] Since political meetings in most public places were banned, the church became the main place where Soweto people could meet and discuss. Even funerals often ended up as political meetings. For this reason, Regina Mundi earned the reputation of being one of the main centres of anti-apartheid activism in the province of Gauteng.[1]

During the Soweto uprising of June 16, 1976, when students were shot by the police in Orlando West (with Hector Pieterson and others being killed), many demonstrants fled to Regina Mundi. The police entered the church, firing live ammunition. No one was killed, although many were injured and the church itself, as well as its furniture, decorations, and symbols (for example the marble altar and the statue of Christ), were damaged. Both the interior and the external walls of the church still bear the signs of the shootings.[1]

After the end of apartheid, from 1995 to 1998, several meetings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission were held in the church, presided over by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.[1] From 1995 on, funds were raised to restore the church. The campaign eventually collected 1.5 million rands, and restorations were made.[2]

The events of 1976 are commemorated by a dedicated ceremony held in the church every year on June 16.

However, when we came in front of the Regina Mundi Catholic Church, I forgot to ask the tour guide why the name of that church was Regina Mundi. But when I came back home, I retrieved a link expaining the origin of that name, the Regina Mundi being the Latin name for the Mother of the People. It was mostly symbolized by a painting made by artist Laurence Larry Sculy, “The Madonna and the Child of Soweto”, or simply “The Black Madonna”: http://interfaithmary.net/pages/Soweto.htm

Next to the Regina Mundi Catholic Church, I snapped a picture on a wall showing the extract of the Rivonia Treason Trial dated 20th April 1964 saying, I quote: “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” As usual this detail arose my curiosity and I did some researches about Rivonia Treason Trial and found that link which explains everything, focussing mostly on the last paragraph, for which the lines written on that wall represent the final conclusion of which would become later a reality for Nelson Mandela after his release from Robben Island: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_Prepared_to_Die. That speech was of a duration of 3 hours and was prepared further to which he was saved by 3 people from death penalty: George Bisos, the Greek who saved Nelson Mandela (Source: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2013/12/06/the-greek-who-saved-nelson-mandela/), Arthur Chaskalson (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Chaskalson#Career) and Bram Fischer, for whom Mandela paid tribute after his death in 1975 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bram_Fischer#Tributes). But despite having mentioned only about those 3 men, I saw 4 other additional men who were behind Mandela’s defence during the Rivonia Treason Trial and who are nonetheless worth to be known as well: Joel Joffe (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Joffe,_Baron_Joffe), Harry Schwarz (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Schwarz#Mandela_prison_visitAfter the 1964 Rivonia Trial, where Schwarz had been on the defence team and where his university friend Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, Schwarz was barred from gaining access to Mandela.[33] However, after Mandela was moved to Victor Verster Prison, various restrictions were lifted upon Mandela, including more lenient visitation rights. On 23 November 1989, Schwarz, following a request from Mandela, visited him in prison.[34] After his visit, Schwarz called for the “immediate and unconditional” release of Mandela, stating that this was “in the interest of all South Africans – black and white – that this should happen as soon as possible”.), Vernon Berrange (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernon_Berrang%C3%A9#The_Treason_Trial) and Harold Hanson (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Hanson). According to the tour guide, Nelson Mandela acted as a spy in disguise to collect information and was living in a farm which was the headquarter of the ANC. The tour guide added that Nelson Mandela went to Europe to get some help and came back to South Africa via Morocco and Ethiopia, and then was arrested when he landed in South Africa. Regarding Mandela spying, I didn’t retrace any proofs aout what the tour guide told us, but I retraced a Wikipedia document about the Liliesleaf Farm in Northern Johannesburg, which was the secret place where Mandela was operating secretly and maybe spying (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liliesleaf_Farm) But I also saw some sources certifying that there were some foreign agents who operated and prepared Nelson Mandela to come to government and into his spying, such as Niel Bernard (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niel_Barnard), Israeli Mossad Spy Agency (Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/document-israeli-mossad-spy-agency-trained-young-mandela/2013/12/23/9979bc7e-6c1a-11e3-aecc-85cb037b7236_story.html) and the MI6 Headquarters in Brintain, for which Mandela denied the idea of being a MI6 man nor requesting their help into foiling assassination attempts (Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2000/mar/23/nelsonmandela)

To come back to the rebellion of students against Afrikaans language, the tour guide showed us a police station with a green roof from afar while driving, where students used to manifest during apartheid. I don’t have any documentation regarding that police station, but maybe the link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_African_Police#Upholding_apartheid will better explain the involvement of the police force during apartheid.

– When we ended our roaming by visiting the Hector Pieterson Memorial, unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside the museum but I could take a few pictures out of the memorial place and retrieved some rich documentation regarding that young hero, among them the Hector Pieterson memorial (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hector_Pieterson_Museum), the young hero Hector Pieterson himself who died in martyr during the student rebellion against Afrikaans language (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hector_Pieterson) and the Soweto uprising (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soweto_uprising). But while doing researches, I found a very interesting document about Hector Pieterson’s mother and her decision to forgive what happened to her late son Hector Pieterson, and whom Mandela considered as a great heroine: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/revealed-woman-whose-forgiveness-after-2907567#vpOb227ZyreKvEFQ.97 and another one regarding Hector’s sister who was on the same snapshot screaming near her brother’s dead body carried by another student: http://www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com/culture/3882-hector-s-sister-tells-the-story-still-38-years-later-01. However, there was a plaque which captured my attention on the elder student who was carrying Hector Pieterson’s dead body, 18-year-old Mbuyisa Makhubu, which were words from his mother saying, I quote: “Mbuyisa is or was my son, but he is not a hero. In my culture, picking up Hector is not an act of heroism. It was his job as a brother. He left him on the crowd and somebody saw him jumping over Hector. He would never be able to live here.” Those words were from Mbuyisa Makhubu’s mother Ma’Makhubu. And there were very few proofs about what he became with lots of unclear information, such as his so-called emprisonment in Canada (Source: http://www.thestar.com/news/immigration/2014/07/11/mysterious_man_in_canadian_jail_is_mbuyisa_makhubu_says_brother_of_antiapartheid_icon.html), family members haing perhaps found him back years later (Source: http://www.news24.com/Live/SouthAfrica/News/Family-believes-they-have-found-Makhubu-a-lost-apartheid-icon-20140813) and unanswered questions regarding him (Source: https://www.idfa.nl/industry/tags/project.aspx?id=71b5bc82-ed08-4e5d-a1cc-096b04848bc5&tab=dfs)

– While we were continuing our trip entering Soweto, we saw a series of male hostels for male workers. Those workers came to Soweto in the aim of having a better life living and could stay in those hostels for months all alone and away from their families, in very cheap and insecure conditions, like mentioned in that extract below, I quote (Source: http://www.nytimes.com/1992/09/20/magazine/island-of-fear-inside-a-soweto-hostel.html?pagewanted=all)

In the terrible logic of apartheid, townships like Soweto were designed as great reservoirs of cheap black labor to serve the white cities. The hostels, which housed migrant workers from the apartheid-designated black “homelands,” served as a way of topping off this labor pool without allowing the permanent settlements to expand. A certain amount of alienation was implicit in this scheme. The townships were family communities. The hostels were bachelor quarters for men who left their wives and children back home, and who used the township the way a sailor uses a foreign port. The apartheid engineers often aggravated these tensions by grouping hostel dwellers along tribal lines.

“Meadowlands Black Residential Area,” as it was formally designated, is one of more than 200 South African hostels where an estimated million black workers still reside; it is one of eight hostels in Soweto, South Africa’s largest city. Meadowlands is an array of 650 rectangular, single-story buildings of concrete block roofed with corrugated asbestos, each built to house 16 men. They are laid out in rows, like military barracks, along rutted dirt alleyways. The hostel is bounded on the north by flattop hills of earth dug up in the search for gold, on the west by a swath of bombed-out buildings that separate the hostel from the township neighborhood known as Zone One, on the south by the two-lane extension of Soweto Highway and the neighborhoods of Killarney and Mzimhlope.

Then we arrived in front of the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital, which was known, as per our tour guide, for the separation of two newborn twins with heads conjoined and where Winnie Mandela had been working for a couple of times before meeting Nelson Mandela. Before looking for proofs about what the tour guide said, here is a small introduction I found about the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital’s historic (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soweto#Chris_Hani-Baragwanath_Hospital): The Imperial Military Hospital Baragwanath, named after Cornishman John Albert Baragwanath, was built in 1941 during the Second World War to serve as a British Military Hospital. John Albert Baragwanath initially owned the situated site as a hostel, The Wayside Inn, until the British Government paid £328,000 to make it a hospital.[9] Field-Marshal Jan Smuts noted during the opening ceremonies that the facility would be used for the area’s black population after the war. In 1947 King George VI visited and presented medals to the troops there. From this start grew Baragwanath Hospital (as it became known after 1948), reputedly the world’s third largest hospital.[10] In 1997 another name change followed, with the sprawling facility now known as Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in honour of the South African Communist Party leader who was assassinated in 1993 by white extremists. Regarding the twins with heads conjoined, I could retrieve an article dated 1988, certifying that the surgery was successful, but the sad news was that only one twin sister survived and was perfectly healthy, whereas the other one died with pneumonia, one year after her birth: http://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/mpho-mathibela-one-siamese-twins-separated-operation-six-months-earlier-leaves-hospital-. Finally, I effectively retrieved a proof about Winnie Mandela working at that hospital, through that extract, I quote: She arrived in Johannesburg to study to be a social worker, doing her training at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. “Winnie was a remarkably effective and dedicated social worker,” writes Emma Gilbey in The Lady, The Life and Times of Winnie Mandela. “The patience and resourcefulness she had demonstrated with her younger brothers and sisters were now put to daily, professional use.”

(Source: http://www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com/nelsonmandela/3444-the-women-in-madiba-s-life). Sad though that I didn’t retrieve more sources than that regarding her short career in that hospital, but I think that a visit to that hospital would be worth knowing more about Winnie’s career as a trainee there.

– A little further, we discovered what the tour guide nicknamed with amusement the “Zulu McDonald”. It’s a place where street food is prepared with met freshly prepared before being cooked and then served to its clients. According to the tour guide, that kind of food was much far healthier than the fast food meals and that there were no chances to suffer from food indigestion nor food poisoning with such street meals. and at the same time those street foods are much more affordable and cheaper, like demonstrated by that article from Huffington Post (Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ross-resnick/street-food-is-the-new-fa_b_405471.html) And here is an example of street food from Soweto, with the preparation of the Kota sandwich (Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/cathyhuyghe/2013/12/09/street-food-soweto-style-preparing-the-famous-kota-sandwich/#52076dfb6a96)

– A little further, we discovered another interesting place in Soweto, the Freedom Square, also known as the Walter Sisulu Square (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Sisulu_Square) where we retrieved the Freedom Charter, which was created by the anti-apartheid activists. They were made with 9 columns, each of them representing the 9 provinces of South Africa and the 10th column the South Africa overseas, according to what I understood from the tour guide (Source for the Freedom Charter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Charter). Near the Freedom Square there was the Freedom Square Hotel, and according to the tour guide, it was possible for every nationality to book a room there and which is accessible with new equipments and fully modernized.

– When we left the place to go to Mandela’s House, the tour guide mentioned about an anti-apartheid South African artist, Brenda Fassie (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenda_Fassie) and one of her songs, “My Black President”, which was an anti-apartheid song and which was banned by the De Klerk government during apartheid because of its lyrics: Among several political tracks on the record was “Black President”, written around Mandela’s release from prison. It opened with the verse, “The year 1963/The people’s president/Was taken away by security men/All dressed in a uniform/The brutality, brutality/Oh no, my, my black president”. It was immediately banned by the de Klerk government. (Source: http://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/blog/theres-much-more-to-brenda-fassie-than-her-pro-mandela-anthem) and according to the tour guide, Brenda Fassie was even the first black woman to have been cremated, whereas during apartheid the black people didn’t have the right to be cremated after death. I don’t have proofs about Brenda Fassie’s cremation but I retrieved a PDF document which certified cremation as a problem for Black South Africans, which can be doanloaded from site http://www.hts.org.za/index.php/HTS/article/download/492/391. Since during apartheid some artists didn’t have the right to involve politics nor their anti-apartheid activism in their song lyrics, they were forced to disguise their lyrics to sell their songs, at the example of Eddy Grant’s “Gimme Hope Jo’Ana” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimme_Hope_Jo%27anna)

– Before arriving at Nelson Mandela’s house, we drove near another national and international hero who acted against Apartheid, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whom our Mauritian archbishop Mgr Ian Ernest visited several times in South Africa. There are so many things to say about that hero which would be insufficient to mention in that blog post but here were his roles during Apartheid (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Tutu#Role_during_apartheid) and since Apartheid in South Africa and worldwide (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desmond_Tutu#Role_since_apartheid). I may post something soon about Desmond Tutu among the people who inspired me the most in another blog post later.

MANDELA HOUSE

Then we finally arrived at Mandela’s House, where we snapped so many of his personal documents, pictures, quotes retrieved on his wall banners, pictures of Winnie and her daughters, etc. I could feel by entering that little house, that despite its simpicity, it really meant to be a home for Nelson Mandela and his family and that all the walls of that house were speaking and revealing to me the life of tat wonderful hero when he said: “‘That night I returned with Winnie to No. 8115 in Orlando West. It was only then that I knew in my heart I had left prison. For me No. 8115 was the centre point of my world, the place marked with an X in my mental geography.

(Source: http://www.mandelahouse.co.za/history.asp) You can go on that link as well to have the complete details regarding Mandela House as well.

When we left Mandela House, the tour guide drove us to the final destination of our Johannesburg and Soweto roaming, the Hector Pieterson memorial which I mentioned before while talking about the student rebellion against Afrikaan language. While he was driving us, he mentioned abbout something regarding Winnie Mandela’s house which he showed us during our drive, and on which he precised that her house was to be given as a donation to some foreign celebrities such as late Khadafi from Libya, American actress Jane Fonda and Cuban President Fidel Castro. I am not sure about that matter but it saw an article which seems to illustrate what the tour guide said about that Winnie Mandela House, but which I need to make clearer with the gotour guide on my next visit to Johannesburg: http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2013/12/06/surviving-the-10-days-of-mandela-grief/.

– While we were still on our way to the Hector Pieterson memorial, the tour guide mentioned about a guy who used the sign language during Mandela’s memorial ceremony. But when I did my researches, most of the sources I obtained certified that sign language interpreter for being fake and even caused some complaints from the deaf community of South Africa: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/southafrica/10510455/Nelson-Mandela-memorial-interpreter-was-a-fake.html but no one knew the reason behind his intentions unless he protested in a video where he admitted being attempted with schizophrenia but that he was following treatments against it (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xX44YFTpQ8). The tour guide also mentioned about the president who succeeded Nelson Mandela after his death, Thabo Mbeki, but I need to come back to Johannesburg to better understand the life of that man, whose I found an article regarding his rivalry against actual president Jacob Zuma: http://www.timeslive.co.za/ilive/2016/02/15/On-the-political-conspiracy-judgement-that-gave-us-Zuma-Thabo-Mbeki1.

Finally, before going back to hotel, while ending our visit to the Hector Pieterson Museum, I stopped at the souvenir shop and saw a few books on the lives of some national heroes, for which I did some quick researches since they also have their part of activism against apartheid and for the welfare and development of South Africa after apartheid:

– Eusebius McKaiser:

Eusebius McKaiser is a political and social analyst at the Wits Centre for Ethics. He is also a popular radio talk show host, a top international debate coach, a master of ceremonies and a public speaker of note. He loves nothing more than a good argument, having been both former National South African Debate Champion and the 2011 World Masters Debate Champion. His analytic articles and columns have been widely published in South African newspapers and the New York Times. McKaiser has studied law and philosophy. He taught philosophy in South Africa and England.

– Jay Naidoo (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_Naidoo)

CONCLUSION:

In general, I really enjoyed that experience of my very first Johannesburg roaming and Soweto experience. Before leaving Johannesburg the day after, I met a waitress who was a native from Soweto, a few after I retrieved with great joy Margaret, another adorable waitress I befriended during my first holidays in Johannesburg for Christmas 2015. The waitress Margaret from Alexandra recognized me, and just after, Edna, the one from Soweto, befriended me and I left a little money for the both of them. They wer so happy that they filled me with their motherly blessings and hugged me very often with so much love. I pray that for our next trip to Soweto and Johannesburg, I succeed experiencing a half day or a day with Edna in Soweto to complete my experience there as a human one, and then with Margaret at Alexandra, which, I am sure, has its part of history too in South Africa, especially Johannesburg. I am very thankful also to Pat for all the information that he gave us during that tour for that very first expeirence that we did and during which I have learnt a lot of interesting things through him, in addition to the personal researches I did to verify Pat’s information. However, there are lots of points which I noted down, and which I would like to develop later for my next trip to Johannesburg since they remain either incomplete or unclear to me:

– I would like to know more about the history of beer by visiting the SAB World Beer

– Meaning of the red bricks in the Constitution Court of South Africa, especially why the red color was chosen to build that place as well as the previous prison.

-Does physical disability give you the right to do what you want? Especially when you know that no one can misjudge you? Case of Oscar Pistorius’s trial and the Indian one-legged dancer who was abused by her husband

– The new electric central at the entrance of Soweto: which link does it have with the other known Soweto power plant (Orlando Power Station)?

– Winnie Mandela’s career at the Chris Hani-B. Hospital: A place which is worth to visit since maybe we can obtain more details about Winnie’s career.

– Was the Orlando Power Station damanged by the students protesting against Afrikaans language learning during apartheid?

– The Liliesreaf Farm where Mandela was secretly operating and, at the same time, working as a farmer under a pseudonym, David Motsamayi, and which is a place worth to be visited too.

– Why, among the 7 Defence Lawyers in the Rivonia Treason Trial, should we focus especially on Chaskalson, Fisher and Bisos more than the other ones, as Mandela’s saviors against death penalty?

– Was late singer Brenda Fassie really the first black woman cremated in South Africa?

– Big Plan on Desmond Tutu’s life and achievements

– Was Shebeen beer made with Soka, which made of it a dangerous alcohol drink?

– Was Winnie Mandela’s house given as a donation to Khadafi, Fidel Castro and Jane Fonda?

– After Mandela: The rivalry between Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma: an instable presidency?

  • The beautiful love story between activist Jay Naidoo and his Quebecoise wife, the novelist Lucie Page