Yesterday I put up some videos pertaining to what were two anti-apartheid struggles, one in the USA and one in South Africa. I have been on the telephone to RSA for technical assistance and spoken to what were black African experts. I can tell from their accents because I lived in Zambia as a child. Back then there would not have been any black experts, so things have changed a bit and that is nice. For me it was enjoyable to hear their voices.
One could argue that King and Mandela were minor avatars of black liberation.
The status quo always resists and sometimes it does this by murder and intimidation. Biko and King died because they were trying to stimulate change.
This is the irony, the status quo, even if it practises apartheid believes itself to be in the right. It will hang on to its power structures with a grim determination. We see this happening in Belarus where protest is met by force. It will not change one iota unless the situation becomes utterly untenable. The status quo nearly always uses some means of intimidation or coercion, mild or otherwise, in order to maintain the status quo. The status quo is blind to its faults and does not like having them pointed out. History in this respect is repetitive.
I have lived in quasi-apartheid in post-colonial Zambia, in the mid-seventies. It was not enforced but there was financial and social exclusion. When I was 11 or 12, I had a fully grown man be my golf caddy and carry my clubs. I used to let him play golf on holes 2-17 out of sight of the club house. They weren’t allowed in the club house because they were not members. Membership costs were out of reach for them so there was a deliberate financial apartheid. There was lip-service to integration in the social structures but legislative rules regarding integration in employment. At the metal refinery where my father worked whenever there was a new opening, if there was a Zambian applicant qualified “close enough” they took the role. It was with some pride that I heard my caddy won the annual members versus caddies competition. The rugby club was pretty much all white, as was the amateur dramatic society, the squash club and the tennis club. Occasionally we would see black children at the public swimming baths. We did sit and watch dubbed Chinese kung fu movies at the cinema with them in the hundreds. Because my dad was a Zambian Rugby Football Union referee, he would travel to ref. township style games.
It was the struggle of the birth pangs of Zimbabwe that caused us to return to the UK. There was a “terrorist” / “freedom fighter” base just out of town. They were unruly and caused problems in town. The Rhodesian Air Force bombed them from time to time. My mother did not like it, so we left. My dad was offered a job in Brazil for a German company, but he would be paid in cruzeiros not deutschmarks, so we ended up in Berkshire and then Kent. It is funny how one man’s terrorist is often another man’s freedom fighter.
Anyone who threatens the dominion of the status quo is deemed terrorist. If they win, they the erstwhile freedom fighter might then get attacked by a whole new generation bearing the terrorist label.
No doubt the British thought the Americans terrorists as they demanded independence. It is a label with which the status quo brands its perceived opponents. The status quo is rarely aware of its own hypocrisy, accusing others of brutality and terrorism whilst feeling utterly justified in dishing it out.
“The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place on 13 April 1919. A large but peaceful crowd had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab to protest against the arrest of pro-Indian independence leaders Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlu and Dr. Satya Pal. In response to the public gathering, the British Brigadier-General R. E. H. Dyer surrounded the Bagh with his soldiers. The Jallianwala Bagh could only be exited on one side, as its other three sides were enclosed by buildings. After blocking the exit with his troops, he ordered them to shoot at the crowd, continuing to fire even as protestors tried to flee. The troops kept on firing until their ammunition was exhausted. At least 1000 people were killed and over 1,200 other people were injured of whom 192 were seriously injured.
Responses polarized both the British and Indian peoples. Eminent author Rudyard Kipling declared at the time that Dyer “did his duty as he saw it”. This incident shocked Rabindranath Tagore (the first Indian and Asian Nobel laureate) to such an extent that he renounced his knighthood and stated that “such mass murderers aren’t worthy of giving any title to anyone”.
The massacre caused a re-evaluation by the British Army of its military role against civilians to minimal force whenever possible, although later British actions during the Mau Mau insurgencies in Kenya have led historian Huw Bennett to note that the new policy was not always carried out. The army was retrained and developed less violent tactics for crowd control.”
People “conveniently” forget their own history for political purposes. It is funny how history takes a very dim view of brutality and yet it is nearly always ever present. The great and the good are allowed to kill hundreds of thousands in Iraq but should an Iraqi fire a missile back, he is the terrorist.
The terroriser calls the weak the terrorist so as to justify bullying them. This is the way of oppression.
The status quo always resists and is largely unaware of its own hypocrisy deeming itself utterly justified in its mores and its way of living which it inflicts by rules onto others.
Nevertheless, change is one of the constants of the universe.