A lifetime of injustice

The year is 2020, exactly 60 years after the Civil rights movement that claimed the lives of activist leaders like Malcom X, Martin Lurther King & Medgar Evers.

2020 marks the 21st year since Amadou Diallo was shot 41 times outside of his apartment in the Bronx. Amadou was an African immigrant who traveled to America in hopes to return home with a degree but instead returned in a coffin. Hundreds of New Yorkers protested against the murder of the 23-year-old Computer Science major. Eventually, the four police officers who shot Amadou Diallo 41 times were trialed and later found not guilty. The police officers claimed to be frightened because they saw Amadou retrieve an object from his pocket.

Let’s rewind to 1955, to the town of Mississippi, where a 15 year old boy named  Emmett Till was lynched for offending a woman in a grocery store, witnesses risked their lives and stepped forward to give an account of what really happened in the store in hopes to prove that the encounter did not justify the young boy’s murder, however his murderers were acquitted. The woman later confessed to fabricating details about her encounter with Emmett Till and his death is noted as a catalyst of the civil rights movement.

The world receives absurd explanations for the death of unarmed people of color who find themselves at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Death rarely happen by chance, especially when you have a gun pointed at you or have your life squeezed out of your body. Perpetrators often get a slap on the wrist and are given the opportunity to move forward with their lives – this act alone perpetuates that the victims of this mass injustice have caused their own death.

People of color are caught in a constant state of protest. A loop of grief, mourning, marching, social media posting, attack and a lifetime of injustice. A lifetime of brutality.  A lifetime of oppression. 10 lifetimes worth of bloodshed. From the beginning of history black lives have been claimed with minimal repercussions. Injustice is served on a silver platter, a spit on the face of the countless black bodies that were sacrificed to ensure this race lives on for another century.

We know the road to freedom has always been stalked by death.” – Angela Davis

I write this oceans away from the scene of the crime, writing as a South African “born free” still grasping the ramifications of apartheid and building a life that my ancestors would be proud of on the foundations that were left behind by Steve Biko and Chris Hani – activist martyrs that will never be forgotten because of their bravery and sacrifice. My form of protest is   a short essay in my phone’s note pad. My form of protest is trying to find a thread that connects the lives of  George Floyd, Amadou Diallo, Emmett Till, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Walter Scott and Michael Brown – trying to find meaning, praying for a resolution, justice and a revolutionary change. I am searching for meaning, and holding on to bits of optimism for the future of the African diaspora , most times my optimism stares blankly at me for hoping all will be well while we’re in hell.

There is no conclusion to this essay, there isn’t a deep meaningful realization that I come to. I will just leave you with the words that keep echoing  in my mind…   

“Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” – Frantz Fanon

FIRST-TIME VOTER JITTERS

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Uhuru Noun Swahili. Meaning: freedom, independence

 

It’s Saturday, the 26th of January 2019. A seemingly ordinary day, and I’ve set my alarm two hours earlier than it is usually set. I take 15 minutes longer than usual to get out of bed. I’m anxious. Today marks the first time I register to vote !
The first time a democratic election took place in South Africa, I was probably a vague idea in my father’s head and the other 4 times, I was simply too young to vote. My relatives mock me, I am uncertain if it’s because they simply do not believe in voting anymore or it’s because they don’t think their or rather my vote matters at all. I almost start feeling naive for believing. I almost start imagining my ballot paper being a drop in a rigged ocean.

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Excerpt from Nelson Mandela’s inauguration speech delivered on 10 May 1994, speaking on behalf of democratically elected ANC-led government.

I‘m usually an opinionated person, the type to debate and defend whatever it is I believe in to the point where I’m out of breath, but I can’t seem to find the words to defend my eagerness to go and register to vote. I can’t seem to find the words to defend my supposed “naivety” I mean I can’t blame them [my relatives ] for not trusting the system.

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Page 1 of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s 355-page report titled “State of Capture

 

I wish someone could tell the politicians that ordinary folk can see through the propaganda. By propaganda I mean, certain political parties showing up in certain communities only during election season. By propaganda I mean certain political parties hosting frequent events to interact with the community only during election season.  Yup, we see you kissing babies and exposing each other’s skeletons.. That’s right we see the propaganda !

The are so many obvious antics reserved for election season, and my primary concern is that political awareness and political involvement among the youth is only encouraged during voting season.

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An excerpt from a newspaper article written about the youth uprising in ’76

 

I wish I learnt about the works of Thomas Sankara,  Kwame Nkrumah, Chris Hani just to name a few while I was still in high school.  I wish the class of 2013 read ‘Black man you are on your own’ or ‘I write what I like’ instead of Animal Farm. I wish the youth of South Africa was conscientized to the history of our country and extensively taught about democracy and politics long before they reached middle school.

In that way when the important task of voting comes  the youth will be politically literate enough to understand that we vote for political parties into parliament based on their ideology and not family recommendations and the youth will be politically literate enough to understand that we identify REAL revolutionaries through their actions.

I started understanding political systems in my first year of varsity after choosing a politics and public policy module. It is through this module that I started understanding the different ideologies which are ruling around the world  and it is through this module that I learnt that policies are usually passed using the winning parties’ Manifesto,  but just because a party said that they will deliver on certain promise during election season doesn’t mean they will keep their promise when they step into office or rather parliament.

This election season I have taken the conscious decision to familiarize myself with political parties’ different constitutions and manifestos. I mean the answer has to exist somewhere right ?! but it’s still a huge responsibility to vote in a democratic country because when you vote, you give power away to a certain party/faction and hope that they will do right by you and your neighbor.

If  you have access to the manifestos/constitutions of any other political parties than those mentioned above, please share them in the comment section.
ALUTA CONTINUA.