Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Back with a Bump

Well, the Christmas is officially Over, the after-effects of New Years has finally worn off. The Decorations are down and have been put in the loft for another year.  Life goes on... or maybe not.  My Dad phoned on the 2nd of January to tell me that his cousin in South Africa (who we all knew really well) had committed suicide on the 30th. A mutual relative had phoned him that morning to break the news to him and he was really upset. I don't blame him either, we knew things hadn't been going particularly well for Owen but didn't realise it had gotten that bad. Also my Dad being an only child Owen was more like a brother than a cousin and was really close to him even when we moved to the UK and Owen remained in SA.  It turns out that the company Owen was working for told him and several others that their contracts were not going to be renewed and that their final working week was the week before Christmas. They only told them this during their final week. What a stupid time to tell people they're losing their jobs!  Especially as a 50-odd year old white male has virtually no prospects of getting a job in SA at the moment due to "Affirmative Action" (aka Racism in Reverse).

Forgive my cynacism on this topic. It seems my former homeland has decided that all white people supported apartheid and must therefore be punished. They forget that there were people like my parents that stood up for them and their rights, that gave them decent salaries, housing, medical and other perks that were not usually allowed for black workers. My parents were followed and had their phone tapped regularly because they were known as "black sympathisers". At 13 years old, I myself stood up for black kids in my own school after integration was started, due to the simple bullying that was happening.  Yet we are all tarred with the same brush as the racist sector of the population is.  Why? We did so much for these people when they needed it and we are now being repayed for this kindness. 

My father often tells me a story of how my Grandfather nearly prevented apartheid from happening at all.  He was a big man: standing nearly 7ft tall and heavy set too. He was a real Boer farmer with a healthy respect for his black workers. He could give them hell sometimes but they all knew he was a fair man.  He was also the chairman of the local farmers co-op; during election season the farmers co-op used to invite politicians to speak to them about their political agenda's. One of these speakers was Hendrik Verwoed, who would later establish apartheid as law during his leadership of SA. During his speech Mr. Verwoed outlined his racist plans to segregate blacks and treat them as third-rate citizens. My grandfather was so enraged by his proposals that he rugby-tackled Mr. Verwoed on the stage infront of the whole audience, sat astride his chest and started throttling him with his bare hands. Apparently it took 5 men to restrain my grandfather and set him back on his chair!  I only wish that my grandfather had succeeded... it would have saved South Africa a lot of heartache and possibly his nephew's life.

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