I recently returned from a rather distressing visit to Dar es Salaam, being robbed and the accociated ordeal to get my life back in order. On my flight back from Nairobi to South Africa, I decided to watch a movie on the new inflight entertainment system of Kenya Airways, maybe just to get my mind of things for a while.
To my surprise they had Sir Richard Attenborough's Cry Freedom as part of their selection of movies, possibly because of his passing away that same week.
This brought back so many memories. I still recall the day clearly when the movie was released in South Africa on 30 July 1988 after months of struggling to get approval for the release. On the day of the release we had these mysterious bomb threats at the about 30 theatres where the movie would have been screened. This resulted in the movie being banned immediately and the police seizing all copies of the movie. Two bombs actually went off and the police used their infamous "in the interest of public safety" as a reason to overrule the Publication Appeals Board's approval to seize the material.
I was lucky to get hold of a copy of the book based on the movie at that time. We were all getting ready to go an watch the movie, so reading the book was the next best thing one could do as so much other literature was still banned in those days. While watching "Cry Freedom" it brought back so many memories of those days when we were living in a severely oppressed society.
It made me realise how free we have actually become in being able to express ourselves and say what we need to say without the fear of being victimised, or even jailed merely because we have an opinion or want to change the world we are living in. Or are are we?
Are we really that free, or are we still shackled by the indoctrination of half a century of active and brutal oppression? Are we only euphoric about the South African miracle yet in reality very little has changed in the lives of millions of South Africans?
"So as a prelude whites must be made to realise that they are only human, not superior. Same with Blacks. They must be made to realise that they are also human, not inferior." - Steve Biko
Steve Biko was one of they great leaders of the rise against Apartheid which the government of the day tried to silence at all cost, eventually resulting in his death in police custody.
When I look at our leadership today, it is only shameful and disgusting on what is happening in this country. How we are perpetuating race, how we keep ourselves divided and how we cannot get over the "us and them" concept in our society.
We are all South Africans now. We must accept each other as we are and forgot about the fact that we may look different in appearance. We need to actively reach out to one another. We are all human afterall.
"In time, we shall be in a position to bestow on South Africa the greatest possible gift - a more human face." - Steve Biko
Our great leaders are now all gone. The new leaders are mostly in the game for themselves. They have ravaged and destroyed the principles of movements such as the African National Congress. The African National Congress as the ruling party in fact resembles the National Party more often today, and it is getting worse.
Every week more attempts are being made in undermining the Constitution and trampling on the rights of the people of this country, the very same people that still believe change will happen. The same way the Apartheid government kept people uneducated, and manipulated education to become a low grade institution for a part of the population, the very same way freedom of access to quality education is being manipulated today.
"The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." - Steve Biko
As long as people are not educated, they are not free. That is how the minds of people continue to be controlled because without this manipulation, you cannot stay in power when you do not deliver and when you fail your citizens.
My hope is in the new generation of young people in this country. People who are not being manipulated by politicians, people that will think for themselves, people that will look critically at what is happening.
Our young people of today must realise they have so much power to enable change. You need to focus on your education as a cornerstone to build knowledge. You have to learn about our great leaders and how they have overcome so many things against all the odds.
Most important: Become our leaders of the future so that one day someone will write about the great leaders in South Africa of the 21st century, and no longer about the leadership we had and lost in the 20th century.