Johannesburg - “Separate development” sounds like something that doesn’t love a wall.
It chimes the same tune as a Robert Frost poem.
The death of South Africa’s last apartheid president, FW de Klerk is a Mending Wall paradox.
“… It is true that in my younger years I defended separate development, I never liked the word apartheid,” De Klerk said in his last video.
But separate development still sounds like they are all pine and we are apple orchards.
Though the pine needles, like a flock of drones darkening the sky, could fly and invade our apples. And the worms inside of them.
And their seeds, both the apples and the worms. And the soil.
Pine needles can freely flutter about on our side of the fence.
“Good fences make good neighbours”.
But our orchards will never look at the cones on your tree, fearing needles in their eyes.
These needles come in many forms. They typically fly in packaged in teargas canisters tumbling in township streets. The ceremonial scent of Black bodies burning.
The basic principle of separate development policies was granting rights and freedoms to Blacks only within the confines of the Africans' designated homeland, while outside the reserves Blacks were to be classed as foreigners, in their homeland.
The reserves; we keep the wall between us as we go.
Blacks and whites; to each the boulders that have fallen to each.
Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of Apartheid, became South Africa’s prime minister in 1958 and transformed apartheid policy into a system he called separate development.
The system created 10 homelands, separating Black South Africans from each other.
How else do you make a Black majority in the country disappear in front of the world?
If not by reducing the possibility of Blacks unifying into a single nationalist organisation.
De Klerk apologised for the pain, hurt, indignity and damage apartheid has done.
Robert Frost’s Mending Wall talks about barriers that people put up between each other.
“Good fences make good neighbours” means that people can only get along better if they establish boundaries in the form of good fences.
De Klerk’s death is a Mending Wall paradox in that he defended apartheid and endorsed its stance on segregation.
The spilling of our ancestor’s blood. The snatching of our land from beneath our feet.
And the tongue of their mothers that they forced into our mouths when we died during the student uprising of 1976.
Much like the speaker in Frost’s poem who seems to suggest that these barriers are outdated and unnecessary, De Klerk said his perspective had changed.
We, the people who were subjugated to the wrath of apartheid, are a paradox unto ourselves too.
We want colonisers to say sorry for their nonsense.
We are able to forgive, but it is the mental scars and our physical squalor that will make sure we do not forget!