Apartheid, ANC and the cry of winnie mandela

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This is a short english assignment on my choise of subjebt apartheid, it contains basic history about ANC and the sharpeville massacre aswell as a book analysis/reviw on "the cry of Winnie Mandela" by Njabulo S. Ndebele. I´m not sure about rating but the history of apartheid is a blood staind one and this essay mentions and discusses matters of violence and cruelty.
furthermore english is not my mother tongue and there are lots of mistakes, I know, but I hope you can see past that.
any constructive critic is warmly welcomed /ebba

Submitted: August 25, 2009

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Submitted: August 25, 2009

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Apartheid, ANC and the cry of Winnie Mandela

We said, it’ll never happen again, that’s why we put so much power in the United Nations, to prevent anything like Hitler’s Germany to form. But we missed a spot; we didn’t prevent it from happening in South Africa.
Apartheid
The Boers -from the Dutch word for farmer- are descendants of mainly Spanish, Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Fleming and Germens immigrating in the 17th century to South Africa. They’re also called Afrikaners and today the majority of the Boers prefer to be called Afrikaners as the name shows their identity as Africans better. There are though more conservative Boers still using the old name.
When the British came to South Africa they clashed with Afrikaners resulting in the two Boer wars and a longtime hatred towards the Brits. The second Boer war and the British ruling that it resulted in led to a nationalistic movement among the Afrikaners. The nationalistic party was founded and when they won a majority 1948 they immediately began to openly increase the segregation.
As any country with inhabitants of many origins and obvious cultural and appearance differences the past centuries have included segregation and discrimination, but instead of lessen the NP tried and succeeded to make it bigger. It didn’t take long before the cities had zones where certain groups where allowed, there where signs saying who’s bench it was and all the secure jobs where given to the Boers, or simply to anyone white.
1950 apartheid was officially introduced and supported by laws, there was four different race classifications: black, white, colored and Indian. Laws forbid marriages between “races” and crated separated governmental structures for blacks, by 1970 the Black Homeland Citizenship Act made the main part of the black inhabitants, inhabitants of some state far away, it was a way of South Africa to increase the white majority, and go one step further with apartheid. One more step to create an all-Boer homeland.
There was of course anti-apartheid organizations, manly among the black, and in the beginning their resistance was peaceful. It was demonstrations in the way of Gandhi.
But one of these demonstrations went wrong on the big scale, a crowd in Sharpeville offering to be arrested where shot, the shouting required 69 lived and injured 180 people. Regardless the shooting was intentional or not, the police didn’t stop firing and the unprovoked violence was the beginning of the down fall for apartheid.
The government was forced to back (even if they claimed it was only temporarily) in the question of pass ports, and a growing amount of critic against apartheid strained the relations with the rest of the world.
But the fact that the government forbad the anti-apartheid organizations ANC and PAC brought a much less political situation. The groups developed a military branch each and the peaceful protests turned into murders, torture and bombings. The ANC developed an exceptionally nasty execution technique called necklacing, they bind the victim’s hands and hanged a tire around his neck before setting it on fire. This method was mostly used at blacks that where working “with” the system, that included policemen for an example.
But even as the world condemned the apartheid and there was both sanctions and weapon blockades, and there was strong protests within the country, both from terrorists formerly from ANC and PAC and from civilians from all “race”-groups.
The nation was resilient to change and apartheid continued to rule South Africa in to the 90:th when one of the driving forces within NP, the president had to resign and the government started to move towards a democracy. But it took the nation hard years to get there, from 1985 and forward South Africa was many times declared State of Emergency since it was the only way for the government to handle the apartheid resistance.
The majority of human rights violations where happening during this time and the anti-apartheid-terrorists where most active during this period.
Apartheid never went as far as the Nazism and their expressed wish to rid their country and later on the world from certain “races”. It may not have turned into a killing machine, they never cold blooded, methodically murdered, like their racist precursors but that we even let them take the steps towards a similarly race-divided society just years after the end of the second world war…it a question worth asking. But it has to be put into perspective that Europe was dealing with the aftermath of the second world war, and that the iron curtain and the cold war was beginning to form, the rich world wasn’t so rich at that moment and pretty wrapped up in their own problems.
Maybe it wasn’t so easy to discern the racism in the NP in the beginning, it would probably looked a lot alike the Nationalistic Party it was called, less like the racism it would become, if the world had been able to look. Maybe it was so far geographically from the leaders of the west to care.
Maybe it was just at the wrongtime and place, and it really do bothers me that there was next to no pressure or protests from the outside world until the Sharpeville massacre in 1959. By then the NP already had violated the blacks(and other groups) human rights by restricting their movement, closing of parts of the cities for certain groups, forcing them to wear a passport just to cross the street and forbidding marriages between the “races”.
It was the passport matter that lead to the protests that resulted in the Sharpeville massacre, 69 dead, 160 injured, many of them shot in the back trying to escape from the police.
The Sharpeville massacre
The morning of 21:th of March 1960 a crowd of 5000 - 7000 people was gathering at the Sharpsville’s police station offering themselves to be arrested for not carrying their pass ports.- All blacks was at this point forced by law to carry their pass ports on them at all time, to cross the road to buy cigarettes not carrying it would mean prison.
It’s evident that the protest was organized by PAC(ten days before ANC had decided to launch a campaign) and that they had pressured inhabitants of the city by cutting telephone lines, giving out flyers about the protest and force bus drivers not to drive. There was still a strong support for the protest though.
Regardless if the atmosphere was festive and peaceful as some sources claim (Wikipedia) or tense and threatening as others say (Times), the mob was not carrying weapons and the only hostile acts where a few rocks being thrown. The police where armed with tear gas and machine guns and it was less than 20 polices at the protest.
At 1:15 pm the police opened fire even if the police officer in charge have said he didn’t give the order, apparently a young police officer opened fire spontaneously as the mob threw rocks at him. But they didn’t stop firing as the crowd turned, many victims shot in the back the evidence. It was understandable that the officers were jumpy as nine polices where killed by a mob in Cato Manor two month earlier, but the shooting was still unprovoked and the feelings were heated.
A wave of demonstrations and protests moved trough South Africa, members of all groups protested even if, which is understandable, the protests where strongest among the black.
The government took action a week later by removing the law that forced all people classified in the group of “black” to carry pass ports. But the government didn’t only backed like I’ve earlier commented they also arrested over 18000 people and forbid the organizing of ANC and PAC. The ban didn’t stop the anti-apartheid groups but it resulted in the creation of their military branches.
ANC played a big part in the Sharpeville massacre, and in fact in the whole anti-apartheid movement and the creation of the Republic of South Africa. Yea…they sound like the good guys but they to have a bloody past, like the country itself, even if intentions were good to start with. Today the party have been shaken by scandals and corruption, yet it’s keeping it position as the govern party of South Africa. Why?
Well it is a way for the South Africans to state their repudiation to apartheid, what could be more opposite than letting the former opposition rule, but sooner or later the ANC will loose the blame and glory for things that happened during the apartheid and their actions now, will matter more. Whether they will gain or lose from that is best left unanswered.
ANC:

ANC was founded 1912 as South African Native National Congress, but became ANC eleven years later, the African National Congress. In the early years of apartheid there were other more active groups but in the end ANC and PAC would come to be the dominating anti-apartheid-forces and a two of its leaders (Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela) would come to receive the Nobel peace prize.
During the forties apartheid increased and the new violations of black people’s rights forced ANC to become a lot more active. Their fight against apartheid was inspired of Mahatma Gandhi and they was aiming for a nonviolent resistance, arranging demonstrations and using other peaceful means to show defiance.
In 1944 the Youth League was founded by a group of ANC members and they got control of the whole party in the end of the 1940:s. the group gave new life to the campaign and arranged civilian disobeyance and many protests towards the apartheid laws. In the 40-tys ANC grew and broadened as groups representing other minorities, labor unions and women’s rights groups joined.
In 1950 there was bloodshed, when 18 blacks were killed in a protest and the defiance campaign developed in to a mass movement. The fight against apartheid grew and the protests escalated, the government said the Freedom Charter from 1955 to be communistic and leaders of ANC were arrested. When more whites joined ANC against apartheid some of the nationalistic blacks left ANC and PAC(Pan African Congress) was formed. The disturbances culminated in the Sharpsville massacre in 1959.
After the tragedy, NP forbade ANC and PAC, and shortly after Arberto Luthuli received the Nobel peace prize in 1960, they both developed armed branches.
Umkhonto we Sizwe, ANC: s guerilla branch, launches its first attacks in 1961, and would carry on until 1990 when they where integrated in the South African National Defense Force. During 30 years they bombed military, civilian and infrastructural targets, threatened and tortured blacks not expressing or being involved enough in the fight against apartheid and murdered high profile targets.
A extremely nasty for of torture called necklacing was often carried out in the name of ANC during the 80:ys and 90:tys, and consisted of a rubber tire filled with gasoline around the chest and arms of the victim set on fire. Sadly there have been a few cases of necklacing in 2008 against Zimbabweier fleeing over the broader.
the picture in the west world of ANC and was and are not so correct, Winnie Mandela, speaking for ANC, shocked the world by encouraging to necklacing, when she said ” with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country…”
ANC have since 1994 and South Africa’s first democratic election been the ruling party or part of a govern coalition. 1994 Nelson Mandela became president and 1993 he and the sitting president Frederik Willem de Klerk shared the Nobel peace prize for their effort of ending apartheid.
Many have a picture of ANC and Mandela as liberating heroes, and well, they played a part in the ending of apartheid but it wasn’t one of a perfect hero. Maybe there was no other way, maybe we can rationally understand their actions, but there is no such thing as a peaceful past of ANC.
They have been violated and , and they have used violence and threats against others, today it’s a party in a free country, but the past is still close enough to breath them down the neck. Apartheid and the actions handed out of government as well as those fighting for freedom will not be left to be forgotten.
In modern times ANC have been shook by a number of scandals concerning people in the top of the party and now 2005, Jacob Zuma was involved in not one but two. He was discharged from the vice president post after accusations of corruption and rape. Yet he managed to be elected to president in 2007 and have a chance of repeating that in the 2009 election, while there are 783 charges hanging above his head.
ANC them self claims to be a “non-racial and non-sexist and democratic liberation movement”that aims and works for “To defend the democratic gains of the people”, “To unite all the people of South Africa” and “To support and advance the cause of national liberation, development, world peace, disarmament and environmentally sustainable development” according to the constitution from 1998.
But how “democratic” ANC is can, and have, been discussed, other than a wide spread corruption, the fact that 16% out of the committee members has been convicted have brought some doubt on the party.
ANC have and will for a time yet play an important role for South Africa, the history is new enough for them to have support simply because of which role they played.
They have a violent past, and they aim to unite a country with a violent history, but it honors them that they have admitted at least some of the wrongs they’ve done. If you read the historical documents on their site it’s admitted that ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe (or MK) have led a military fight against apartheid, they don’t name the torture, bombings or the numbers of their actions but who would?
The first black president of South Africa have reached further than that, he’s far more than just a former president, more than the first native president in a newly liberated country, he’s more than that, he’s a icon, and for thousands of South Africans he’s a hero.
And he did fight for the “good” side, if one ever exist then maybe it did exist there, and yes, he was needed there, in the fight, and so many others did the same. They went away to build a better life, a better South Africa and as many others, Winnie Mandela just had to wait.
The book I read on the subject of apartheid dealt with that, all the women that waited and especially those who waited to no avail, and I think it is a book worth reading, whether it is in the context of apartheid or simply because it’s interesting.
The cry of Winnie Mandela by Njabulo S. Ndebele
The cry of Winnie Mandela circles around an Ibandla, a gathering of women, or an ibandla labafazi abalindile, a gathering of waiting women.
These descendents of Penelope expected to show the same fidelity, the same beliefs in their absent husbands, have waited for no avail. Penelope´s wait ended when Odyssey returned from his journey, after nineteen years, and to protect himself he then made her look like she had given in. judged as "the heartless creature!" when a woman on the nineteenth year of her husband’s departure looks like she is marrying someone else, the role of the wife is quite clear.
Everything worked out for Penelope but her Odyssey didn’t just stop coming home between the mining periods, he didn’t settle down with someone else without telling or just ended it all with a quick phone call to the wife who exited waited on her husband to return after twenty-five year and then he isn’t suppose to appear on TV talking about his new family and the woman he "always been looking for". And Penelope isn’t allowed to give in when Odyssey been gone for eleven years instead of the four he should, yet she is condemned for burying her husband costly when his absent been one of mind, when she is refusing to do the same or leave him when he’s busy fooling around.
When Odyssey return after twenty-seven years and find his wife isn’t the same innocent woman a before, that torture and raids, that twenty-seven years in a society violating human rights, have changed her, she is the one hated yet loved, she’ the one that is blamed.
This book is a strange but sensible mix of analyzes and fictional histories, it’s a mix of six woman who have waited, and quotes. The whole book starts with quotes from Homer’s Odyssey and other texts that describe the ideal waiting woman and the reasons of that image. Then we meet the descendants and hear their stories, and their letters to the most famous of the waiting woman of South Africa, Winnie Nomzamo Mandela.
To these letters, thoughts and stories, these cries that are aimed for her, Winnie answers. It’s fictional but supported by quotations from her and Nelson Mandela. This fictional Winnie Mandela at first is afraid to speak but decides to address herself too, in a chapter namesake to namesake, bizo to bizo, she tells her story. Taking herself on a journey to places that had a strong impact on her, making her who she is, she speaks of the waiting and of why she waited only to be alone.
The language in this book is quite hard during the more analytic moments, and there’s quite a few, but even if I missed some of the meaning in those parts I enjoyed the book. It’s written in a very personal way, the characters feel real even if it’s repeatedly mentioned that they are fictional.
I don’t think I can really understand this book because Winnie Mandela have a very special place in the nations heart and for all of them who been trough the apartheid. So for them who have a more personal idea about her or been in the same position this book obviously means something else.
But all for all this is an amazing book, it’s not conventionally thrilling but it pulls you along. It’s touching and filled with emotions but never in a silly or overly dramatic way and the language is fantastic (as far as I can tell since I’m not native in English), in parts it’s almost like poetry and it’s always forceful.
I think this is a very important perspective on apartheid that often has been forgotten. You read about the event and the actions, but this book is about the vacuum of waiting, where nothing seems to happen. It brings you back into the human aspect of apartheid, how it ruined lives between the dramatic events. Because it’s easy, as someone who wasn’t there, not in time nor location, to forget the real people in it.
In a way this book made me uncomfortable, because I really want to believe the Winnie I read about didn’t do all those things yet my rational mind says she did, did know about them, and perhaps did order them. I like this Winnie Mandela, even if I have been critical to the real one through the little I’ve read and heard and since it’s neither fact nor fictional…you don’t really know what to think.
Apartheid is a great gray-zone, it isn’t the bad and the good guys, not for real, because here the good guys have killed and tortured innocent people. The same scale of gray apply to Winnie Mandela, you can’t just love her and look up to her as you know what she have done, yet it's hard to hate her. I take pity in her and see her as a victim of circumstances yet you can see that she’s strong even if she has been involved with some horrible matters.
I didn’t like or understood all the parts in this book but it definitely leaves you with lots of feelings and thoughts, I’m really glad I read this book both as a part in studying apartheid and simply as a book telling me something about us as humans and about telling, because the language and the disposition is rather intriguing.
Now afterwards I can really see how much I didn’t know of South Africa and it’s history, about that part of the world and their history, and I feel like I’ve gained a piece of the puzzle only to realize how big it truly is. But I think is important to see that, to no put on the blinders and hope, and though it is annoying to know how much there is you don’t have a clue about and how small you are in this world and it’s history, I know I want to see it.
Choosing the subject wasn’t big problem I already had apartheid in mind and after I’d written the first part that was about apartheid in general it wasn’t hard to find my organization and event. The choice of book presented a little more trouble, as for when I had found which book I wanted to read it didn’t arrive from the library until a month or two later, at which time I had already bought the book.
But I’m particularly happy with the book, I think it was a different and needed view on the matterfor me, who’ve only read about apartheid in nonefiction facts. The Cry of Winnie Mandela brought the human factor and theemotions into this project for me; this was what made it real to me.
All in all I’m rather happy with the result and I think I did choose the right subject to write about.

lots of love to anyonewho gotthis far :)

/ebba alias octoberoktober


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