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.