i have to go out quite early today, so not going to be able to compile as much as i would hope, but maybe tomorrow there will be a part II. Yesterday there was a march and some people did and some people didn’t and you can read my thoughts about that if you didn’t yet… but here are a couple of reflections i have seen from people on my feed:
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First up is my sister-in-law and i’ll share the piece i wrote on Facebook when i shared her reflections about the march last night and then her piece:
“My sister-in-law Shana Kreusch took an action today that was not an action i took or necessarily one i agreed with [on the whole] but i have so much respect for her because of both the process she went through to get there [speaking to a lot of different people, getting opinions, choosing the area they chose intentionally and the words they spoke or held or didn’t hold intentionally and so on] and especially these conclusions from the day which are super helpful and challenging [especially #6 – we just cannot get that, cannot]
Also because my big thing for first time marchers/protesters especially of the light-hued variety is that it has to not end here – if you protested today and that was it and it’s all about the selfies and the braai stories from here on out then you missed the plot completely. But Shana has already got her next step and she is bravely inviting the internets into it – that is huge. In her i can see a deep conversation and journey started and all because she chose to do something which may or may not have been the right thing [for her i think it was!]
Could not be more proud of her and Kayla-Tess Pattenden [who i’m assuming is the KT she went with] and the process and journey and stance of saying let me listen and learn and do something i’ve never done before…
Shana Kreusch: Today I joined the protests in Retreat. It was one of the most awkward and uncomfortable things I’ve done, and almost completely went against my personality.
Before I get pounced on for that, let me say this: Did I do the right thing by protesting? I don’t know. Should I have stayed out of it? I don’t know. But what I DO know is that I learnt a lot more by placing myself in that environment, and doing the uncomfortable, than I would have sitting eating lunch at my desk. I took the chance to speak to those standing with me (of different ages, race and background to me) and ask why they were protesting. It was eye opening.
If you’d like to hear some of my reasons and thoughts behind why I decided to go and some of the conversations I’ve had with people prior to and at the protests today, I want to invite you to a conversation around these issues. What I’ve realised the most is that the issues we as South Africans are facing are complex and there are a number of differing opinions and voices in the mix. I’d love to hear what others have to say… to really listen. I’ll be hosting a dinner (or two) at our place.
Come for a free meal and a good conversation around these issues with likeminded, but hopefully also non-likeminded, people. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop me a message if you’re keen. In the meantime, here are a few things I learnt/noticed today:
1. I don’t know it all. In fact I know and understand very little.
2. When a few people get together and take a stand, it gives others the confidence to join in that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. At 10:09am I stood with 3 others. By 11:00am there were hundreds of us. Many said “we were so nervous and then we saw you guys standing there and decided we could do it with you”.
3. Leaders naturally start to lead. I watched as two individuals automatically moved to the front, and lead the crowd.
4. There was actually a range of reasons why people were protesting today. While there was a common protest against Zuma and the corruption of government, I realised it went much deeper than that for many people there.
5. There was a wide range of opinion on whether we should or shouldn’t be protesting. Opinion across races (white, coloured and black) differed, but opinion among the same race also differed.
6. While for many this has nothing to do with Apartheid (and I learnt that there was a good mix of white, coloured and black individuals who think race isn’t a part of this), for many it’s impossible to divorce the two. The 3 people I stood with at the beginning told me how this brought back memories of when, at my age, they started to protest against the unjust and corrupt government of the time. I also then watched as a police van saw the group growing and in support put on their siren and shouted “Zuma must fall” out their window. That’s not what these 3 saw. They heard a siren, saw the cops and ran. I mean ran. With terror. Sure, they all came back and had a ‘good laugh’, but can you imagine your first response being terror of being arrested, tear gassed or assaulted? That was the reality for them.
7. About 90% of protesters where I was standing were woman. I have no idea what that means, but it was fascinating to watch the guys stand in a large group opposite, watching, but refusing to take part.
Believe it or not, I learnt a whole bunch more as well. Come for dinner to chat and explore how we take the protest against injustice into our everyday lives. I realise that protesting today probably did nothing to bring down our corrupt and oppressive leaders. But it signified a commitment for me to stand up for justice, even if that means being uncomfortable. This is a starting point, there is so much to learn and so many other ways we can fight this.
Well done if you read this whole thing. It was long.
I just want to share my observations from this morning. I’m really not even sure if it’s worth sharing with you, but I wonder if most under privileged South Africans feel the same way as me and if yes, what is it that we could do to change the situation around.
So today as I felt some guilt about my indecisiveness and for choosing not to go to a protest while I strongly believe that President Zuma shouldn’t be holding office. I thought the least I could do with my day is to go and watch Kalushi or get some Steve Biko books. In that very moment there was lots of noise from outside, people chanting and shouting “Zuma must go” and cars were hooting. I decided to go outside to witness. Well a couple of things that I observed that didn’t sit well with me were these: Most protesters were flashing their expensive phones recording the event, some of them holding on and sharing their coffee from Vida Cafe and NU, there was also bottled water from Woolies that was also been shared. After a while the leader announced that now they can decide to go join the other group about 5km ahead or return back, then overhearing people ordering Uber to take them to their different destinations, I felt better about not joining this protest because I knew that the junk status is quite relative and affects races differently. #Just an ordinary day in SA.
Reflections after spending time with some amazing people:
1. We need to recover the spiritual practice of doubt (toward critical pedagogies and doubt as a critical thinking tool)
2. We need to decolonise our readings of sacred texts, recognizing how the church is entangled in the dominant ideology.
3. The Bible is far more radical than Fanon, Freire or Biko when we read it from the perspective of the poor and allow it to subvert dominant power relations. This is only possible
when we begin to explore how it’s message is understood
by those positioned differently to us.
4. We need each other…the texts are meant to be interpreted in community.
5. We should recognise Jesus as a premodern man and not give up wrestling with the texts just because we seek to find quick ways of connecting a premodern story to our postmodern context.
Then there was my friend Leah who has been living in Australia for a couple of years and has been back home visiting while all this has been happening and she decided to join the crowds:
I’ll be completely honest. I didn’t know If a march would help, or who it would help, I had zero clue if it would make a real impact.
Then I met Mr Brown. He was forcibly removed from district 6 as a kid. His forgiveness, his relentless grace,his love for everyone in this country and his dream to see Mandela’s legacy return found me on the streets of Cape Town today.
Because I refuse for his healing to be in vain.
I still don’t know much, but what I do know is I spent a few hours walking the streets of Cape Town, dancing, while awesome Xhosa women kindly helped me with translation of the lyrics of the songs they were singing (which made me cry by the way) and for a moment in time, no one cared about parties, race or religion.
It was the ultimate definition of having one voice.
I think real change needs to happens in our everyday lives. With how we treat people, with generous wages, generous giving and restoration of dignity. And a whole lot more.
So, Im not sure if any real change will come of this march.
But I can’t deny that through dancing, singing and a lot of laughing, spirits were high and hope felt real.
And maybe just for a moment today, that was exactly what South Africa needed.
So, in conclusion, my thoughts on the march and the question of was it right or was it wrong, probably still land on “Yes!” – For anyone, like Shana, that this has been the first protest action they have taken, it absolutely has to be the catalyst for more [and Shana is already working on that] and for others who may not have been sure like Leah it was finding absolute beauty and togetherness along the way. For my other friend – and i think many of us – it was scenes of absolute hypocrisy and missing-the-pointness – and for some a selfie moment for the Instagram calendar and then back to comfortable privileged life – and for others is was trying to find different ways of having significant moments despite not feeling we could or should be part of the march. Then there are my friends from the PJW [Peace Justice Witnesses] community who volunteered to be at the marches as silent observers in hopes of helping keep peace if anything got out of hand.
We tend to be too often a nation of Either/Or and i think we need to again and again be looking out for the Both/And. Should Zuma be removed from the presidency? Absolutely, but that is not going to fix the problems. Where do we need to be looking at our own lifestyles and privilege and choices and friendships and seeing where change can happen. What corruption, past or present, do we benefit from and how are we going to make a difference to that. Do we feel absolutely okay about the fact that some people return from the march in their Ubers to fine dinner parties in their houses that have more toilets than people living there [our old house used to – finger pointed firmly at me!] while others return to a shack where they have to crap in a bucket or take a potentially dangerous walk at night to a communal toilet far from where they stay.
This quote Wayne Eaves stuck on his page feels like a valuable piece of food for thought for us all to chew on…
Keeping calm about inequality is corruption. [Rev. Alan Storey]
How about you? Did you march or not? What were your reflections on the day?