South Africans were among many who were not allowed their human rights especially during Apartheid.
Apartheid was no more and no less than racial segregation enforced by the National Party government of South Africa, under which the rights of the majority black inhabitants were under the rule of white supremacy. It was developed after World War II by the Afrikaner-dominated National Party which lasted between the late 1940’s until the 1990’s, and eventually devastated the country of Africa.
Black South Africans were not allowed to attend school with whites, they couldn’t live on white property unless they were farmers, they had to carry their passbooks at all times, they were barred from schools and colleges, sex between races was considered a crime, and they were not allowed to perform skilled work in white neighborhoods. This was in violation of all Articles under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), giving all humans the right to freedom, liberty, life, security, protection, recognition by law, equality, peaceful association, and many many more.
Taking over 50 years to destroy, Apartheid separated groups in order of color. Asians, blacks, Indians and of course whites had their own versions of freedom. Whites had the unlimited power and upper hand while the minorities struggled to gain respect and treatment that they deserved. After much separation, townships were developed and congresses were formed. Being a minority, it was very moving to see how many South Africans (combination of blacks, indians, asians) were willing to give up their ‘freedom’ to fight for their entitlement in their country against the whites.
Throughout, part one of Have You Heard From Johannesburg?, you could clearly see the strength and perseverance these groups of people had to not only establish a life for themselves, but to see a better future for generations to come. They fought long and hard for their rights, and even in the 1960’s when thousands of black people walked together without their passbooks in order to demand their freedom, they did not give up. Standing outside of the police station, 7,000 strong, surrounded by 300 heavily armed reinforcements sent by the government, they did not give up and they did not back down. “Unity is strength”.
This film uncovered how corrupt the government in South Africa was at this time when they decided to release fire at the crowd of 7,000 even while they were running away and causing no terror or danger. 69 died and many, if not all, had bullet wounds in their back.
While living in South Africa, Ghandi showed the South Africans and congresses that ” the enemy can be taken down non-violently”. People weren’t aware that this could be done, and it was most challenging for South Africans because they came from a background of militants. How could they abandon the actions that had become a habit and try to solve the war between races with peace and dignity?
The Freedom Charter is when things started to develop and change in South Africa. This document mimicked the charter for the United Nations which called for nothing less than creating a democracy that would dismantle apartheid. It laid the foundation for a democratic South Africa. The correlation that the United States had in the whole war on Apartheid is the defiance campaign which was a campaign focused on publicizing the problem and raising funds to solve it. Over the next 30 years, the US was in assistance to those in South Africa struggling.
The Rivonia Trial, a trial made most popular for list of defendants, was a trial that took place in South Africa between 1963-64 in which ten leaders of the ANC were tried for 221 acts of sabotage designed to overthrow the system of apartheid. Its name came from the suburb of Johannesburg where 19 leaders were arrested in 1963. The farm in which the leaders were arrested on was used as a hiding spot, where Nelson Mandela was eventually found. The members of the ANC were either banned, imprisoned, or exiled – and Mandela spent the second most amount of time in jail at 28 years.
“The idea of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony with equal opportunity, it is an idea for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But my lord, it if need be, it is an idea, for which I am prepared to die”
This was the testimony of Nelson Mandela on trial, and it echoes strength and pride and the goal to end apartheid, at whatever cost. But the cost was to arrive soon, and the man who was to break the bank was Oliver Tambo. In order to keep the public informed about the struggle in South Africa, they were to be informed inside and outside of Africa so that the lines of communication were kept open. Tambo was a diplomat, and a courageous man who was sent away to not only save him, but to have him plan a revolution. No one but Oliver Tambo was calm and gentle enough to mobilize a great support for the struggle.
“They were hard days. Hard times as Charles Dickens would put it”.
Fast forward to the present, the struggles in South Africa continue, but the Apartheid has ended. It is important to continue to pray for those in hunger and without homes, and to keep an open mind on what you can do to help save a life. I will leave you all with a powerful quote from this film that made me think about the differences of the situation if the roles were reversed.
“There was no way that South Africa could ever be ruled by a black majority because that would’ve meant that the black majority would’ve done to us what we did to them.”