Friday, May 23, 2008


The quote running through my head these days:
In Germany, they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up.
--Martin Niemoeller, German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor

A helicopter was circling more than normal last night.

Ah well. Whatever.

I woke up sometime between 1am and 3am to gunshots and then police sirens. I curled back under and “ah well, whatever, I’ll find out the story tomorrow or within the week”.

I had freaked myself out by the time I put my book down a bit earlier. The one by Savo Heleta. His personal account of war in Bosnia and the Serbian & Muslim ex-neighbours killing and torturing each other is all the more poignant now, with the helicopter circling and the images and stories on every South African Front Page.

I know that in the closest township there is kak going on, but I am in my own expansive room, in my luxurious house, in my secure neighbourhood. As I curl down to sleep though, I am now asking if, one late night in a few months will I suddenly be awoken to noises and my parents telling me to movemovemove. Will the “angry mob” be out for us by then? What will I take? Will I lose all my photos? All that furniture we pride through the generations? What of my two dogs? Will we grab food and water and clothes? Where would I go to, late at night, under threat?

People did it just over ten years go in the Balkans and in Rwanda. I was a lightie enjoying trivialities when Savo was undergoing hunger and twenty people in a single room that was being bombed. History books still speak of the Jews in Germany and Poland… the Warsaw Ghetto. They hinted at the mob violence and a 19th Century city burning in “Gangs of New York”.

Not a lesson has been learnt by my leaders or by the blinkered crowd.

I look at my peers’ blogs, facebook ramblings, and general conversations. Oblivious. They talk of the mundane or joke of how this is bad for tourism and The Rand. I have seen some sick attempts at humour - showing how a whitey living in London really doesn’t regard a burning township black man as human enough.

I know we can donate. Get angry at the government. March from Pieter Roos park instead of sleep in on a Saturday. I know I can debate about where this is all leading. One radio station hypes up the tales, others speak of it abating in their inane hope. Because we are fucking lost and left behind by an elitist government and opportunist government-to-be.

Is it time to give up on my country? When I see how little the state-powers-that-are care for human life? If they don’t care for the richer whiteys, if they don’t care for people infected with the epidemic of the day, if they take so long to act for the illegal immigrants who left everything in their own counties and came here for protection, or for the minorities that were here before the Zulus and Xhosas…. When the impoverished start beating their needs into anyone & the government simply again passes the buck... Well, what will they care for this humanitarian’s life of mine, over the decades I am desperate to invest into my home?

The US government, WFP and the UN will send in more of me when I am murdered, raped, or attacked. When my family who established important parts of this country (The Argus comes to mind, or an ancestor who fought with Shaka, or my honoured father…) is taken out. And the love of my life, who just wants to establish a solid family grounding, is seen as an The Enemy. When all my friends have “globalised” or outdebated themselves and moved on or become lost to savage events.

Today I feel we will all just sift into the oblivion of this country, whose leader was out for a Renaissance and forgot his people in the meantime.


fuzzy logic said...

Champs - hearing you say this is heartbreaking. You're my barometer of how things are in SA - if you lose hope, there is no hope!

noodle said...

It's so strange. With all the constant violent crime and corruption and poverty in this country, its the recent xenophobic violence that frightens and saddens me the most.

Champagne Heathen said...

Fuzzles - and a trip to glorious 1st world Europe is not going to help my despondency. Let's see what tomorrow's march brings... it usually helps rebuild a sense of solidarity. But how many more times can I go up and down the "patriotic what-if".... Too late in the week to be thinking. Gonna stop this now!

Noodles - good point. Why this? It's not like it hits any closer to home? Maybe because a mob is so "unruly", so illogical, but so powerful. A mob is so easily turned, and could so easily be turned on your "identity group". Or at least with crime you can say, well they wanted that material thing, but this is so burn a man because of your own frustration?

Anonymous said...

Champers darling!!!! I can't comment on blogspots from work, so am finally catching up. Firstly, I've been interested to read your take on the X violence. The cynic in me wonders why it takes a crisis for us to act. Over and over again. Humanity charities have been asking for help with this issue (letters to govt., assisting foreigners get papers, support of the homeless etc...PLUS, supporting our own people) and it's only NOW that we haul out the blankets, oil and salt. Eish. I'm as guilty as the next person. But we live such ostrich lives, I'm always more surprised at the outrage and shock, than at the actual horror of it all.

As for your delicious boy - YAY for you, chiquita! He sounds fab. And I would be a packet tuna camper too. It's half the fun. I reckon those other chicks would be camp widdows if they didn't spend as much time with their men in the bush.

As for Sarah Britten - she's fucken hilarious. Man. And emigrating? Sjoe. I can't say I'm not tempted. I'm tired of feeling like I'm living on a knife's edge. But not just yet...I can't bare the thought of leaving this place. The place where my heart lives.

And what fuz says....

Insane Insomniac said...

Seems as if the shit has really hit the fan over there...
Even Corey Taylor (him of Slipknot) made a mention of the kak there in his column in RockSound. eish!

Champagne Heathen said...

Dolce! As long as I know you are around and reading! ...hell, I can comment on your blog but often don't end up commenting, but I am always reading!

I remember blogging about 2 years ago now about the Somalians being burnt in the Eastern Cape. Them & the Eritreans have bene targets to blind violence for years now, but we always left it as isolated.
So, did it really take us by surprise?
Also, what is worrying me, is that normal organisations who start their winter collections now won't receive their annual quota of donated blankets & tinned food. People only have so much to give in a year. Or do we?
And I think we have to live ostrich lives at times, we'd go mad & insane if we kept up the stress levels the nation is currently feeling.

And as for the man... yeah, loving him more than ever this morning :)

Insanity - the atmosphere is intense but "lost"... almost defeated in how to fight against this. All we can do is donate, and patch things up.