This week SA Rocks is being taken over by South Africa Flights! I called for guest bloggers last week and received great responses from about 4 interested parties! I’ll be spreading the love over the next few weeks so expect to see some fresh and interesting takes on various topics from a wide variety of writers!
If you are interested in participating as a guest blogger please contact me. You’ll also notice that I have kindly provided the guest contributor with an advert in the sidebar! Nice!
History is a surprisingly touchy topic – after all, what’s happened has happened in the way it happened. The controversy arises from the fact that we don’t have the time or knowledge to go through every single incident in all its detail, so we summarise and point towards what we think the important elements were.
Out of its very nature then, writing history is a subjective process and a reflection of who we are. Here’s 8 moments in South African history that I think are worth highlighting:
Emancipation from slavery
1 December 1834 was a glorious day in South Africa’s history when an Act of the Parliament abolished slavery and some 40,000 slaves (from Africa, India, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka) were set free. This represented a victory not just for the slaves with origins, but for humanity as a whole. The freed slaves celebrated in Cape Town’s streets with bonfires and fireworks, thus beginning the tradition of the Cape Carnival. The Cape Carnival is now celebrated on the 2nd of January – which should be made a public holiday so we can all freely celebrate this pivotal moment in mankind’s history and remind ourselves of Bob Marley’s message to “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind”.
Cable links Europe to South Africa
On the 25th December 1879, the South African Telegraph Company completes the East Coast cable linking South Africa (Durban) to Europe….onward to 1993 and Telkom’s SAT2 cable also linking Europe to South Africa (Melkbosstrand), and hello internet…114 years and a revolution in communications.
God bless Africa
We all want God to bless Africa – not that we’ve got anything against other continents but Africa in particular needs his (forgive the anthropomorphism) help. Happily, in 1897 Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist mission school teacher, put this request for blessings into verse for us. Enoch composed a Xhosa hymn called “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika”. Fittingly, his grave at the Braamfontein Cemetery is a national monument and a place to go to pay one’s respect to this great South African. God bless Enoch Sontonga, even though he’s dead and buried, his spirit lives on each time we sing the hymn.
Mohandas Karamchand (Mohatma) Ghandi spent 20 years in South Africa, during which he became a champion of non-violent protest against the unjust. Mohatma coined the term “Satyagraha” which he described as “force which is born of truth and love or non-violence”. Ghandi was a gentle man of the highest principles and a champion of peace, South Africa is blessed that he spent so many years here. The event for which he is best known by South Africans occurred on the 16th Aug 1907, when Ghandi lead 3000 people of various religious groups to burn their passes in the courtyard of the Hamidia Mosque in Newtown, Johannesburg.
South Africa’s present day borders are defined
The concept of South Africa with (more or less) its current borders was born on the 31st May 1910, when the Union of South Africa was formed. Up until then the area was composed of the seperate regions of the Cape and Natal Colonies, the Orange Free State and Transvaal. If not for the Union, a trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town might constitute crossing a national border. Whilst this formation of borders was a powerful defining moment, I can see a future where we move past these colonial-era boundaries into ever-closer union with our neighbours.
The non-violent struggle
Cut from the same cloth as Ghandi, in December 1961 Albert John Lutuli won the Nobel Peace prize for his part in the non-violent struggle against apartheid: “I have joined my people in the new spirit that moves them today, the spirit that revolts openly and boldly against injustice and expresses itself in a determined and nonviolent manner…” Lutuli spent 17 years of his life as a school teacher (all of whom deserve an award for the good they do) and later as chief and then president of the ANC, during which he strove to create harmonious relations and equality amongst South Africans. “It is inevitable that in working for Freedom some individuals and some families must take the lead and suffer: the Road to Freedom Is via the Cross.” – great words from a great man.
From the 5th January 1976, the advent of television (or the “devil’s own box”, as the Dutch Reformed Church called it) brought about a sea change in South Africans’ lives. No need to unpack this statement, as you will probably turn on the tele at some point today and know what I mean.
Some 160 years after slavery was abolished, the freedom of mankind took another leap forward, when on the 27th of April 1994 South Africans over the age of 18 of all races, sexes, beliefs, genders, intelligence levels and social status went out and voted. With the achievement of universal suffrage has come the realisation that real freedom is not just about political freedom but also economic freedom…the struggle continues.
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