Saturday, October 15, 2016

Don’t blame it on the whites – blame it on apartheid. Those “pale intruders” also lost their human rights.

 Under the Bantu Authorities Act of 1951, the Transkei became, in 1959, the first region to be established as a Territorial Authority; and in 1963 it became the first Bantustan to be granted 'self-government'.  I was 7 years old. Kaiser Matanzima supported the apartheid concept of separate development.  He was Chief of the AmaHala clan and should have been subject to the rule of the Paramount Chief of the Tembu, Sabata Dalindyebo.  The Paramount Chief opposed separate development. Matanzima entered the Transkei Territorial Authority (known as the Bunga) in 1955.  To bypass the authority of Dalindyebo, the apartheid government appointed him Regional Chief of Emigrant Tembuland in 1958, and in 1966 consolidated the position by making him Paramount Chief of the Emigrant Tembu, thus making him Dalindyebo's equal.  The people were not happy and the PAC started agitating to eliminate the apartheid regime within the Transkei. 
My first memories are those of waking up in the middle of the night to look for my mother, only to find her sitting quietly at the front window, with a rifle in her hands.  “Sssssh”, she said to me.  “Go back to bed”.  Little did I realize at the age of 4, that life and death was outside our windows and doors.  Petrol bombs were the weapon of choice and therefore we had burglar proofing made of thick but small holed wire on the outside of our windows so that any petrol bombs thrown would bounce off the windows.  Our doors were covered in sheet metal for the same reason.  The Pan African Congress’s armed wing, Poqo were on the warpath, killing anything that supported the apartheid regime which meant, whites and Matanzima’s advisors.  They succeeded in killing one of Matanzima's advisors in October 1962. They also killed Tembu Chief Gwebindala Mabuza in October and Chief Mageza Dalasile in December.  Numerous whites were also killed  and the small towns where whites lived where protected by men of the Commando’s patrolling the outskirts of the towns.  My father was never home at night – he would be on patrol.  It was a frightening time to live through.
Matanzima ran a brutal regime, and using the infamous Proclamation R400, neutralized all opposition through bannings and detentions. The Transkei became independent in April 1976.  White people woke up one day in April to find that they were now foreigners in the land of their birth and the birth of countless generations.  We had to get permits to remain, permits to work and we had to have passports so that we could travel.  Not everyone was lucky enough to obtain these permits – many were just collected by the army and police and driven to the border and dropped off their just in the clothing they wore.  Businesses and homes were ex-appropriated and people were paid out a minimal sum for what they owned.  These businesses were then handed over to a black individual, leaving the white with no option but to trek out of the Transkei to survive.  I have not heard one pale native scream “give us back our land”. 
Matanzima maintained power with the help of Pretoria and legislation modelled on the Apartheid system.  Suddenly we found that we were no longer ‘one’ but we whites were the ‘other’.  Travelling anywhere through a Transkeian border post became a nightmare.  We were treated with contempt and disrespect, and if there was a seat in your car that was open, one or other of the border guards would get in and demand a lift to wherever you were going.  That came to a halt when we started putting empty boxes onto seats that were not being used.  There is nothing more frightening than road blocks and border posts where police and border police brandished AK47’s while rolling drunk.  One wrong move, one wrong word could have ignited a shootout.

Corruption in the homeland drastically depleted its funds and in 1980 the South African state assumed control over the homeland's budget.  Between 1978 and 1980 South African grants amounted to approximately R573-million. Also in 1980 most of the members of the opposition DPP were arrested, and some were banned. Dalindyebo fled and went into exile in Zambia, where he forged links with the ANC. He died in 1986.  General Bantu Holomisa mounted a bloodless coup in January 1988. Holomisa ruled as chairperson of the Military Council.  He unbanned the UDF and other anti-apartheid organisations and in 1994, the Transkei became part of South Africa again.   For many of us pale natives, South Africa is not our home.  Our home is the Transkei but there is nothing left of what we had other than overgrown cemeteries in small towns and trading stores. And everything that does not work, or needs attention – it is always the white person’s fault.  The unruly people of our land cannot understand the simplicity of the situation.  You can’t blame things on the whites – if you going to put any blame anywhere, put it on the system that was in place more than 20 years ago.  And we pale natives will put the blame for today’s disastrous government right where it should be – on the SACP/ANC alliance.