This is the final part of my trilogy response to the very rude Mr Hitchen’s, and the Daily Mail, and anyone else who thinks that we don’t have the right to have our own democracy.

zumadanceA friend commented on the “passionate” and “angry” style of the first two parts of this piece , and in particular on the second part.

“Franz Fanon” he cried, “they are going to think you are some kind of neo Marxist, you do yourself a disservice.”

Perhaps, for I am not such.

In fact you will find me quite the opposite.

It’s just that Mr. Hitchens made me frothing mad. He made me mad like like no one before  Helen Zille, more so, because unlike Helen, he is no idiot, and precisely because I am white, middle class, eurocentric in many ways, educated and privileged, he was writing, in his mind for people like me.

I used Franz Fanon, because, he has a point here. It is assumed, by many, black, and white, that because of my middle class background, I will see this country in terms of a certain class, or colour stratification, its not so.

I am all those things above, but I am more, an African. I was born here. This is my soil. These are my people. This is my home. I have grown up here. I have lived under a police state, and a democracy, and it is my simple observation that things are so much better now, so much better that you can not imagine.

I am not suggesting that there are not massive problems facing us, in fact just the opposite. It is precisely because of those very problems that an inflammatory piece of commentary like Mr. Hitchen’s ugly little piece of self-congratulatory spite gets me so upset.

Crime is part of the contextual reality of our democracy. What were we to expect, in a nation that had waged a war against 80% of its population for years? What does Mr Hitchen’s think could possibly have happened where massive and conspicuous consumption exist side by side with abject poverty? Would Mr. Hitchens pick up a gun for a loaf of bread?

Even he does not know the answer to that.

Do you ?

Of course we have a crime problem, how could we not?

I wonder at night, in bed, does Mr Hitchens not understand that our bloodless revolution is on its own, cause for hope?

In the dark night of Africa, can he not see the shining light of democracy here?

Is he so blinded that, because he does not care for the people of this country’s choice, he cannot say ” My God, look people, look, democracy is alive in Africa, it works there. Isn’t this fantastic, sure they have problems, but hell, they go to elections, in peace, to choose their man.I wouldn’t have him in England, but hell man, he is the democratic choice in the newest and brightest hope that Africa has ever seen.”

To much?

Probably ?

That we haven’t had a bloody revolution is an extraordinary feat. Mr. Hitchens would have us looking like Covent Garden in 10 years. Please man? Can you imagine a UK with 40% unemployment, where millions of people made less money in a day than tube fare? 

You put our historical and current circumstances on the UK and Mr. Hitchens wouldn’t be alive to make the 7 o clock news.

40% just think about it. We live with it.

For all his doom and gloom, there has been no election violence here.

You are safer as a white person at an ANC rally than at a football game in London.

What is astonishing is not that we have a crime rate, it’s that we have not slid down the gutter, long ago.

That we haven’t, that our ANC government has maintained solid fiscal policy is extraordinary._45013214_singing_afp1

Its factors like these, poverty, lack of access, and almost insurmountable odds, that have pushed so many African countries into hell.

And tonight, here in South Africa, despite all this, I sit here, my windows and doors open, drinking wine, writing, on my laptop, and I am not afraid. Tomorrow, I will drive, my white self to a court inland. I will park my new car, just next to a poor market, I will get out of my car, lap top, pin striped suit, and gold watch, I will walk past 1000’s of black poor people, and most of them will smile at me and greet me, and I will walk to court and back, and I will not be afraid.

I did it today; I have done it so many times.

Rape, murder and theft are real, but they are not staple here.

Our people are poor sir, not violent.

I wonder, often if I was one of those people, with their few wares, laid out on the ground, atop a blanket, selling loose cigarettes and bubblegum for a living, if I might want to just hit that white man with the gold watch on the head, his piece of flash could feed me for years.

They haven’t yet.

I would have long ago.

Mr. Hitchens, if you could see the smiles, if you could see the willingness to try, if you could see the good will, you would, my friend, die of shame.

Did you watch the election rally at Ellis Park?south africa singing umshini wami ?

Did you see them sing Umshini Wami? Did you understand from the smiles, from the deep charisma of our new President, that it was not literal? Did you see war?

If you did, then you were not watching like me.

Let me tell you what I saw, sir.

I saw a man, who despite terrible manipulation of our judicial process by Machiavellian men was where his people wanted him. I saw a man dancing, I saw a man smiling.

I saw the people of this land exercising their right to choose, sir.

I heard too, something that you should come to Africa to hear; I heard the swell of  a hundred thousand African voices in deep harmony. I heard the tremendous echo of their voices. Their key so perfect, you can scarcely believe it.

 It begins slowly, very slowly, deep, and melancholy like , a tremendous rumble in the distance, faint and menacing , like a clarion call from a far away warrior , then it grows, and grows, slowly with the deep confidence of far off thunder and it sweeps and soars with alarming beauty and resonance, it starts to envelop you, it punches your heart and it rubs up against your soul like velvet. It rises and falls, it calls your deepest pain,like myth and legend, it rises from nowhere, it cascades into your night with impunity, it dips and echos, dips and swells, it rises, rises and rises, it covers you – blankets you, it reaches for you – calls  to you,  it strokes your soul and it shines into your darkness and then it swells, slowly, methodically, like an ocean with intent,into cataclysmic waves that crash over your senses in an ecstacy that only the sea could know. 

And it humbles you.

I have  heard them sing like you can only hear in this land sir. Hundreds of thousands of your savages, Mr. Hitchens, tears in their eyes, not yet there, but full of hope, and voices straight from heaven.

They sang, in Soweto in 1976, they sang, they sang like thunder  over the staccato machine gun fire of guns. They sang , as the bodies fell onto our bloodied earth.

They sang, in their own blood.

They sang Umshini Wami.

And they still sing it.

And they sang it yesterday, well above the fire of your piece, in swells of emotion, Umshini Wami, they held hands and they swayed, some closed their eyes.

They sang of their dreams, they sang of their hopes.

The Angels gazed on in deep envy sir, the kind of envy that brings even heaven to its knees.

For our African humanity in the face of our terrible suffering, is divine.

I defy you to stand in the way.

I defy you to stand in the way of Umshini Wami.

The massive machinery of the Apartheid State fell before that song.

Apartheid fell before that song.

You too, like them, fall before that song, sir.

Guns, tanks, and hate fell before that song.

Umshini Wami, held aloft by the voices of African pain.

Their pain.

My pain..

They sing it.

That is our weapon.

This is one of the wonders of our land.

You should hear us sing sir.

We sang an enemy into submission.

We sing today.

We sang yesterday, with the same words, the same power.

And standing there, in front of my television set,I heard that swell of emotion, that sea of hope and dreams and it made me cry.

I cried Mr. Hitchens, big, white, African tears, which fell upon the soil of this land, I cried for yet another absolution, for yet another chance.

SAFRICA-POLITICS-ZUMA-RALLYI cried not, for our bill of rights, our constitution, our separate judiciary, our freedom of speech, our independent electoral commission, our free press or our Nobel Laureates.

I cried sir, because despite unspeakable odds, and a history drenched in blood, our innocent blood, we will find a way, or we will die trying.

But mostly, Mr. Hitchens, I cried because I saw Democracy, how did you miss it ?

 

How dare you sir?

How very, very dare you ?

 

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