School Project from a 10 year old Boy : Class 4 – Mai 2016
Lev: Dear Thobela, you are from South Africa. In what year and where were you born?
Thobela: I was born in 1980 Lev, in a village in the province of Transkei, Mt Fletcher, name of village called Dengwane on the Drakensberg region.
Lev: How did you grow up and how did you experience the apartheid itself?
Thobela: I grew up in Dengwane with my cousins and other family, all under the supervision of our grandmother since our parents were in the big city for the most part, to work so as to my grandmother money to buy us food, clothing, and send us to school. Our parents, specifically my mother, came once a year to visit, at Christmas – and that was THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR for us children. Since we received new clothes & much food at Christmas. And we would see many people that we had not seen all year. When I was 7 years old, we all moved to Cape Town to join my aunts and uncles. Over there it was quite different – it was not so rural – about 20 KM from of the big city of Cape Town. It was a Township/Ghetto called Khayelitsha. At least 20 of us shared a 2 bedroom apartment.
That is where I first experienced Apartheid. I got exposed to places where only white people were allowed in the big city of Cape Town, where people went shopping; as well as policemen and soldiers patrolling the Township everyday with their armoured vehicles to enforce the laws.
Rules which I knew to observe in order to stay out of trouble then were:
– Not to gather in groups of more than 3 people.
– When we played as kids play groups outside on the streets, we had to play separately in case police/military vehicles came by.
– The police / soldiers usually came over to arrest anyone who was rumoured to be against the apartheid laws.
– Whenever the police arrested a person, the neighbours used to protest and protect the freedom fighters. This always used to be very emotional and brutal because at the end, the community would lose that battle. They were either shot with rubber bullets (and sometimes with live ammunition) or gassed with tear gas.
– When someone was arrested, they often never resurfaced. They either ended up in prison or killed.
– On the other hand, when the people cooperated with the police / soldiers and revealed information about what people in the townships were doing, the township community would subject the informant to a “necklacing”.
– Necklacing meant hanging an old car tyre around a person’s neck, douching it in gasoline, and then the person is set alight in front of all the citizens until he / she died!
– In most cases, the police / soldiers would show up and disperse the crowd by beating or using tear gas.
Lev: Even as a child, you already knew the name Nelson Mandela?
– Yes, Tat’uMandela’s name has always been popular.
– When groups of people came together to sing freedom songs, they used to be about Nelson Mandela and other freedom fighters who were also in prison.
– Those songs made it impossible not to hate the whites.
– Many of the songs demanded the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.
– Some of the songs were addressed indirectly to him, where the lyrics were as if the people were crying and told him what bad things the whites did to the blacks in his absence.
– He stood for freedom and better life for all black people
Lev: You Can you remember the day on which Nelson Mandela was released from prison?
Thobela: Ooh Yes !!! I was 14. And it was SUCH an exciting and moving day!!! It was a day full of joy and emotion and ordinary people were excited that freedom had finally come, that Tat’uMandela brought about freedom from the White people!!! The end of Arphatheid had come…
Lev: Have you participated in the elections in 1994 when Nelson Mandela became president?
Thobela: No I had not yet reached the age where I could take part. I was only 14 years old. I experienced the excitement of the whole election though!!! It was overwhelming and encouraging. Songs of gratitude to God for this miracle were sung . It was just joyous…
Lev: Did you know Nelson Mandela personally?
Thobela: Indirectly, as an icon of hope, YES. And as the brave man fighter during the time of apartheid!
Lev: How do you feel about the situation in South Africa today?
Thobela: I really like it even though it will still take many years before everything is okay and the wounds are healed. South Africa has great potential and many opportunities.