Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


From Whence Cometh Their Help?

To Mr Botha, that there might be communists supporting those fighting against apartheid is enough to excuse everything being done to the Blacks in South Africa. And he expects the world to appreciate this great truth and seems genuinely surprised that anybody can fail to see that those who have communist support deserve to be shot in cold blood.

Mr Reagan, when he did manage to bring it out, felt that there were mitigating circumstances to tamper any possible outrage that one might feel towards people who shot into a crowd of mourners. The mitigating circumstances, from Mr Reagan's point of view being that there were some black policemen among the police who shot and murdered the mourners. Sounded almost like a triumphant child bringing out his biggest card to mollify an outraged parent. "But daddy, the person in the car with me when it crashed, I met in your office, yes I was drunk, but I met him in your office..."

So the two main people who can do anything about the madness and the slaughter that is taking place in South Africa have opted out of confronting the reality. Mr Botha says that the black people in South Africa cannot feel the injustice and daily degradation that they suffer unless it is pointed out to them by communists and they cannot attempt to do anything about their suffering unless instigated by communists. As he so kindly pointed out on the American ABC television, Nightline programme the Blacks cannot rise to their knees without help from the whites and the whites therefore had this great responsibility on their shoulders. However, as far as Mr Botha is concerned, those Blacks who sought or accepted help from communists will be killed and nothing anybody in the world says will stop him from that and he is confident that one day, the 'free world' will thank Mr Botha for his stand.

If indeed there is any help from "communists getting through to the suffering Blacks in South Africa, such help is most difficult to discern. It seems to some that should the communists of the world decide to adopt the Blacks of South Africa as part of their cause, Mr Botha might at least have some fight on his hands and the outcome wouldn't be so depressingly and predictably one sided all the time. Possibly the instruments of coercion would not all be in the hands of those keeping Apartheid in place. Twenty-five years after the Sharpeville massacre, there surely would have been some difference to the slaughter at Uitenhage. If anything, things have only gone worse rather after 25 years of condemnation, pleas, resolutions, boycotts and everything else that civilised society has dreamt of.

Maybe in some very cynical way Mr Botha is right. The problem has been that the Blacks have been looking towards help from outside, tragically their hopes have been pinned more on the West, the non-communist world than from the communists. It must be obvious now that no help will ever come, it does not matter how long they wait, the arrangement suits them all too well for them to want to change it unless forced to do so.

As for the condemnations of apartheid, the West will continue to do, as slave to their consciences and for the sake of appearances. It even looks as though Mr Botha does not mind that, for he knows that when it comes to the crunch those words of condemnation mean nothing. His economy is booming, he gets even more sophisticated arms every day, oil gets to this supposedly black listed country, his trade with all the big nations is booming, words of condemnation, he must reckon is a very small price to pay for the state of affairs he is presiding over. And anytime there comes a Zola Budd, he knows she will run for South Africa at the Olympic Games and come back to her real 'home' to rapturous acclaim.

In such circumstances it should not be surprising that some of the Blacks might feel that help from anywhere, and quite irreverently it must be said even from the devil himself is welcome and it will be a very brave person indeed that will condemn accepting help from such quarters. Nobody can say they have not tried to get help from "respectable" For years they have been told that non-violent protest will bring change, their peaceful marches have regularly been met with bullets. Western companies have insisted they are staying on in South Africa to help bring about change peacefully, while the companies continue to live with despair and constant harassment.

Having endured so much suffering and degradation without fighting back, it is perhaps not surprising that Mr Botha believes that the Blacks are less than human and is unwilling to appreciate that their reaction, their intermittent outpouring of emotion is only human.

And to think that their demands, if demands they can be called, constitute only what the rest of the world consider as basic ingredients of human dignity, to have a voice, to be represented, to have a choice and to be acknowledged as a human being instead of as a number on a pass-book.

Ironically and quite unintentionally, much of Black Africa itself can hardly claim that its citizens have that voice or are represented or are allowed to vote or have a say in how they are governed. And as the crowd of mourners at Uitenhage can testify, the bullets from the guns of Black policemen and their whips and truncheons are as deadly as those wielded by the white policemen

The Blacks in South Africa have doubtless discovered that they can do very well without the empty slogans and resolutions from independent African nations. They know that their plight is worsened every day that another African nation becomes a dictatorship and they know that the greatest help that African nations can give them is to prove that they can run their own countries through the will of the majority, quietly, efficiently and with dignity.

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