Ryland Fisher is an independent media professional. Picture: Facebook
Ryland Fisher is an independent media professional. Picture: Facebook

Stop hankering back to apartheid - it's done with

By Ryland Fisher Time of article published Jun 27, 2020

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It is not unusual for people to compare their current realities with the past, especially when things are not going as well as was planned. But one’s memory also blurs the past and what might have been gruesome and grim are sometimes remembered in a more favourable light.

For instance, when I got together with old comrades, we would reminisce about the past and often laugh about situations that were terrifying at the time. This could have been something that happened during detention, or at a protest when the police beat up unarmed and innocent protesters, or when some of us might have been hiding to avoid arrest.

We laugh about it now, but we realise that when it happened, it was terrifying and could have had any number of endings, including death. We will never say those days were better than now. Unfortunately, there are some people who think apartheid was better than democracy.

Go figure. It would be laughable if it were not so sad. There is no way one can compare a sick, inhumane system like apartheid to what has been achieved under our democracy, no matter how imperfect the situation might be.

Apartheid gave political and economic power to a minority by holding the majority in subjugation through repressive laws and a brutish police force. Democracy is meant to involve all the people in political decision making which, theoretically, should result in a more equal distribution of resources and wealth.

While all South Africans have political rights, the economic pie is in the hands of the few whose forefathers promoted and benefited from apartheid. This needs to change, and this is one of the reasons why there is resistance in some areas to the social, political and economic transformation. The minority are trying to hold on to wealth, some of which was accrued illegally during apartheid. They are trying to do this is by creating a narrative that things were better under apartheid and colonialism.

It becomes worrying when the hankering back to apartheid comes from prominent political personalities who claim to have Struggle credentials, when all they did was what any decent human being would have done. It was and is indecent to support apartheid.

It was not easy to oppose apartheid and many people, particularly those who benefited, chose to remain silent. Others had no choice. The Struggle chose us. The worldwide protests spurred by the police killing of black people is evidence of the pain and hurt that can be caused by the oppression and exploitation of people based on their skin colour.

Apartheid repression was far worse. Many people who are opposed to #BlackLivesMatter are the same people who say apartheid was better. They are devoid of humanity and think only about benefiting people who look and sound like them. They need to realise that our beautiful planet is made up of many kinds of people - people differ in their looks, skin colour, gender, religion, culture and more.

Instead of wanting to find ways in which the few continue to benefit, we must find ways of making sure that the resources are spread equally. We can no longer have so much inequality in the world.

We need to make sure that the democratic project succeeds for everyone and that everyone benefits, not only the corrupt few. There is no alternative. Stop hankering back to apartheid. It is gone and will never come back.

* Fisher is an independent media professional. Follow him on Twitter @rylandfisher

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Weekend Argus

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