Hope For Grabouw

I don’t have a lot of recollections of Apartheid. I grew up in its fade-out phase. I was only six years old when Mandela was released from prison. Back then I didn’t even know who Nelson Mandela was but I remember the hope with which people spoke about him.

I vaguely remember what happened in Melrose Place with the forceful evictions in the 90’s. I remember as a boy, helping families gathering their belongings that was scattered all over that dusty open field.

I remember the barbed wires, and begging treats from the SA Army guys patrolling our streets.

I remember Mark Gill and his stories.

I remember the chaos in “Tsotsombeni” and the burning tyres in Ou Kaapse Weg.

As a young, ignorant boy, it felt good to be part of something although I had no clue what I was a part of. More so, I had no clue of the sacrifices or rewards of what I felt part of.

However, years later, I’ve witnessed and tasted the fruits of the price that others paid.

I see a health system that’s functioning well.

I see running water.

I see playgrounds.

I see houses made of bricks.

I see international donors investing and wanting to be part of what’s happening in our town; educational programmes set up and running; entrepreneurs growing.

We’ve moved forward- or did we?

I admire people who stand up for something they believe in. Many of them changed the course of human history: Ghandi, Jesus Christ, Martin Luther King, and Mother Theresa, to name a few. What made what they stood for so powerful and world-changing is that they believed that to fight any “system”, violence won’t fly.

They believed that ‘an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’.

They believed in meekness, and turning the other cheek.

They believed that your revolution or cause should never be at the expense of the innocent.

What I’m witnessing over the last couple of days in Grabouw possibly started with the best of intentions, but unfortunately has escalated into barbaric acts of violence.

It’s painful to see.

When you burn tyres and close roads; when you force shops and businesses to close; when you prevent innocent children from attending school; innocent people from providing for their families; when you throw a “tantrum” over service delivery, in proper post-apartheid South African style,  you are no longer a ‘revolutionary’ (if you ever thought you were one)- YOU ARE A CRIMINAL; a vandalising, selfish, ignorant criminal.

Yes, for you no longer care about the future you dream of if you burn down the present you are in.

You are no better than the system you fight.

Grabouw as a community would do better without you, and without what you are fighting for.

And those of you who’s doing good work in Grabouw- from the police the streets to the mothers and fathers who has to wake up extra early to get to work-  please know that you are valued.

YOU are the heroes in this story because its easy to burn a tyre and throw a stone, but it takes courage and bravery to stay committed to making an honest living, ‘in the sweat of your brow’, in the midst of all this chaos.

Continue to make an impact.

Do not give up on our town.

Continue to believe the best about it.

Love is the revolution.

Peace to you.

One thought on “Hope For Grabouw

  1. Dear Ivor

    I was drawn to your post via an FB post and spent a few minutes reading your blog. Thank you for sharing some of your perspectives. I would like to meet for a coffee when I’m Grabouw to talk about what’s happening in the area.

    I was a bit concerned when I read the sentiment that it’s easy to throw a stone or burn tyres and that those who continue working amidst the chaos are the real heroes. Those who throw stones and burn tyres are criminals. I believe that one should not judge a man’s actions without considering what you would do had you been in his shoes. What would make me angry enough to pick up the first stone? What would make me join people who throw stones and burn tyres? If one vilifies someone else’s actions without considering the legitimacy thereof, one sows dangerous division. The big idea is lost in squabbles about what the best way is to approach a problem. The truth of the matter is that both forms of protest are legitimised by slow action or inaction. Those at the bottom quite often do not have the voice (in terms of access to ears and articulation) to achieve much when engaging role players in a ‘civilized’ manner. If this was the case, how did frustration boil over into the streets of Grabouw?

    Rarely has big change happened without protest becoming ‘destructive’ in the short term. Peaceful protest in the States in the 60s, for instance, did not happen in a vacuum. Neither did protest in South Africa. Mandela did not shy away from this and in fact used the threat of violence to his advantage in brokering the terms of handover. I’m not condoning violent protest as a first solution but I would caution you not to promote an ‘us:them’ approach when speaking on a problem. It’s always counterproductive and almost always allows the bad guy or issue to survive. Crabs in a bucket, man. Only the fisherman wins.


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