Thursday, October 20, 2016

Where I got my "fuck you" Attitude

I learned to speak Xhosa before I learned English.  I was the fifth generation born and brought up in the Transkei.  Since it became self-governing in 1963 we did not really have apartheid issues.  The first hiding I got was from the headman (Nthabonzima) for throwing stones at cars.  My earliest memory is of waking up one night and looking for my mother.  I found her in the lounge in the dark with a rifle pointed out the window and she told me to be quiet.  The fear was tangible.  The Poqo were on a murder rampage and petrol bombs were the weapon of choice. 
At the end of Standard 8, not knowing a single word of Afrikaans, my father decided the best punishment to knock me into line and make me a good South African was to put me into an Afrikaans medium school for Standard 9 and 10.  I remember him saying that I would never make it.  Right there in the new principal’s office, where I had been taken - I thought, "Fuck you - I will show you".  That gave me my fuck you attitude which I still have.  After the first 3 months I refused to speak any other language to my father but Afrikaans.  Then he had the problem.  I went deaf to any other language. 
In 1976 I woke up to find that I was an alien in my own land and had to apply for a residence permit to live in the land where generations of my family had lived.  Thank you very much NP!!  And then I got arrested three times.  Once for dope, once for transporting indigenous plants over the border and once for contravening the sea fisheries act twice.  Well, a girl has to do what a girl has to do.  My name was crossing a lot of cops’ desks in the Transkei. 

I was shocked when in 1978 I came to SA for the first time and saw whites’ only signs.  I was even more shocked for being arrested with my two young children for being on a black's only beach.  I was indignant - not because blacks were not allowed in certain places, but that I was not allowed in certain places because I was white. 
I joined the black sash - was part of their information chain but found them to be too  nansy-pantsy for my liking.  So I went down to the banned ANC offices, paid my R12 and became a member and asked what they needed and wanted.  Much more exciting - could out ride the security cops with no problem.  I suppose that is when my name crossed the desks of the police in South Africa.  
Next bit of activism was finding a school for my son because he was dyslexic and the waiting period for the correct school was two years.  I staged a sit-in at the Department of Education and refused to leave until they had put my son in the right school.  They called the cops who took me away.  Next I got other parents to help and we staged a sit-down on the road, blocking all traffic to the school 
Then it was fighting the school system and I led the Education without Fear in Port Elizabeth - but only after I had hit a school principal for beating my young son.  I went to lay a charge against him before he could get his breath back.  
No husband, no money and two children and only an Afrikaans matric!!  I held down two jobs to put the roof over our heads and got my BA in psychology in 3 years and in the top 10 in the country.  The Honours degree came after that and then I became a professional student in my spare time.  I found I did not know enough about anything.  
I was shattered that the ANC was not what they promised to be.  They did not give a damn about the constitution and we were in shit with unemployment, rising crime and people dying like flies from AIDS.  Since my kids no longer needed a 'mommy' and I had enough money, a home and everything that opened and closed (by the sweat of my brow) - I decided that I would not be a whining white bemoaning the state of our country, but I would do something about it.  The only thing I could do was become an AIDS activist.  I found the place with the highest AIDS rate and the highest unemployment and where there were no resources or NGO's - Middelburg, EC and went there to help.  I stayed in Lusaka, the oldest township in the country at the time so that I could feel what it was like to live under those conditions before I could help.  I ended up spending the next 10 years taking care of 76 children and selling my home to keep them.  They were abandoned, neglected, sick orphans.    The very government departments that were supposed to protect the children - the cops and the social development did not give a damn so I took them on.  Twice I got court orders against the Social Development for contravening the children's act - but that made me unpopular.  I also got evidence of police corruption which I passed along ... then I was deep in the shit. I had too much evidence ... so I got raided by the Scorpions on 6 December 2006.  They returned everything on 17 December 2008, including all the broken computers.  I was never charged.  Death threats aplenty ... Amnesty International pulled me out of SA because the risk analysis was serious that I was going to be killed. Hahaha, here I am still.  While in the UK, got sick, read a book about Eugene de Kock in Dec 2008 and thought - fuck this, now I am going to choose my fights.  And I chose Eugene de Kock after doing as much research as I could.  A good fight to fight!  I also continued speaking internationally and raising funds to keep the children's homes going.    Before I got ill, I was doing a bit of save the trees stuff and chained myself to a beautiful tree that had birds nesting in it.  The council called the cops (they don't carry guns) and they asked me nicely to leave so that the council could cut the tree down.  But what the hell for ... the tree was beautiful and they wanted to cement the place and put an artificial fountain in its place.  I lost that fight because the council cut the tree down at night. 

I have to always have a purpose bigger than myself to give my life meaning - EdK gave me reason to fight for my own life. I am still extremely concerned about him.   I have another two fights on my hands with prisoners:  Heinrich van Rooyen and Garath Riutherford.(Please read up on them.  These are two men who are innocent of their crimes and are in prison because of police corruption.  Perhaps you may have an idea I have not thought of).    I just don’t have time to die properly because there is still the enormous problem of rats in our country.   My activist work is lot slower and less frenzied.  If you can help me with any of my “fights”, please contact me. 
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