A Pair of Shoes

Part 7 of Have You Heard From Johannesburg? was focused on the politics of the ending of apartheid. Through decades of struggle and determination the anti apartheid activists began to make progress. With growing support from other countries in Africa and around the world, the ANC was able to continue their fight.

Neighboring countries to South Africa allowed banned ANC members refuge. Countries such as africaMadagascar, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola were able to broadcast into South Africa over the radio. Oliver Tambo could deliver messages to the ANC members and anti-apartheid activists while still being banished.

The other southern African countries became the backbone to the fight against apartheid in South Africa. This upset the South African government which preceded to launch air and land attacks on  Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, and a war in Angola began.

The footage of these attacks were very gruesome and disturbing. I felt my heart breaking at the numerous faces of injured dying people struggling for their lives. The situation back in South Africa was no better with the police beating kicking people.

holocaust shoes

Pile of shoes of the Holocaust victims

One particular scene, of a pair of shoes next to a bloody puddle, sparked my memory of another image I had seen once. Back in my freshman year english course we were reading pieces on the Holocaust. Along with our readings the professor brought in an image of huge pile of shoes that belonged to victims of the Holocaust. Each pair of shoes had once belonged to someone and this is all that is left to represent them.

When I visited the Holocaust Museum in Florida, I saw a few pairs of shoes that had belonged to some of the victims. The thought that one human being’s existence can be held in a pair of shoes is devastating. Their lives meant more than that, UDFeach of these people lost their lives for such pitiful reasons.

florida holocaust shoes

Shoes from the Florida Holocaust Museum

The South African government did not want the ANC nor the United Democratic Front to be publicizing their fight against apartheid. The police took a forceful route to monitoring what is spread and shared within and outside of the country. Many people were injured or killed in the government’s brutality. Once outside countries began covering broadcasts and reporting on the anti-apartheid protests, the police used forceful measures on the reporters and journalists.

Eventually after decades of fighting for freedom, many of the ANC members who were exiled or imprisoned were freed. With their freedom, the apartheid system was abolished and for the first time ever in South African history the first free multiracial election was held on April 27th, 1994.

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