Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blasts from the past

I’m saving ‘uniforms’ as a topic for last. It’ll amuse me. This part of my subjective experience of apartheid is going to hurt. Remember, I grew up in Pretoria: Capital city: a ‘white’ city brooded over by Union Buildings, the seat of government..

I don’t feel like looking up the exact dates, but I was in my late teens. I think I was already out of school and working, a number of years… somewhere between ’86 and ’94.

There was the bomb at the cinema complex – a Saturday matinee – the only movie house in town at the time: a great place to kill people, especially kids. I heard the blast. Mostly injuries, one man dead. Black. They said he was the bomber. They would, though.

There was the one outside my mother’s work: in the street in front of the public library. Quite a bustling street, and more black people on it than white – not that it matters except in that it doesn’t make sense to battle the oppressor by blowing up the oppressed. People died. Fortunately my mom was in her office and not near the window.

There was the one at the municipal building: a bunch of office workers and people who went to pay their bills. Yes, sometimes I want to murder municipal clerks too, but I wouldn’t, really I wouldn’t. Not like that. The government built a memorial. Wow.

There was a big office building: I once applied for work there. Thank heavens I didn’t get the job – it was tall, all glass, and a busy pavement beneath it – hideous I don’t have to draw you picture. Can’t, it will take too much red paint. I heard that one too. It was a biggie – probably the worst of the lot.

There was one in Church street too, the main street. As usual, it was more likely to kill black people (there were more of them than us, for crying out loud and where else were they to do their business but in town?), doubtless a fine gesture of defiance.

There were other blasts, but these were the worst. I don't like remembering...

In the same town, the infamous ‘White Wolf’, a psychopath with illusions of grandeur, took up a gun and began to shoot people discriminately. Only black ones. I was working about 500m away. I heard the shots. He was overpowered and arrested before long, but you can shoot a lot of people in a short time. Madness. More blood, and to no purpose.

To tell you the truth, I often thought that if the ANC really was properly organizing a campaign of terror (they ‘took responsibility’ for the bombings, but did they do so because they were responsible or because they wanted publicity?) they could have done a darned sight better.

An organization that big could have several bomb blasts a day if it organized itself, and although security was tight, it wasn’t so tight I mightn’t have managed a few bombs a day had I wanted to – and that’s me on my own! Their hearts couldn’t have been it – I suppose that if they were involved at all, the ANC just let a few hotheads go their length. Or perhaps they found out about some secret cell’s actions afterwards and thought they ought to approve on general principles. God knows. I don’t really want to.

At the end of the day, Nelson Mandela was right. You have to leave things behind, and if he could fail to punish PW Botha and his ilk for their wrongdoings, then I suppose its fair enough that others should go free too. Personally, I’d have put PW and a few others away and thrown away the key, and every bomber and every other idiot that did this to our country, but then I’m a hothead and I’m not Nelson Mandela. He’s right. Leave it be. It hurts enough. It hurts on all sides and it hurts all people. Don’t mess with it. Move on.

So we’re doing that.

Today's pic. Something more pleasant than this blog topic! Happy people dancing.


  1. how frightening! It does take a lot to leave the past in the past... About "battle the oppressor by blowing up the oppressed" I see it every day... you have these B.S. gangsters who "protect" the neighborhood by steeling, physically intimidating, vandalizing & selling drugs in the neighborhood, their crimes usually on the people of their same ethnicity. The apathetic masses will remain stupid just the way the ruling elite want them to be. The rich powerful fat cats have nothing to worry about when the majority of people gladly remain stupid & victimize each other.... I think I got off subject!

    I'm glad you didn't get that job!

  2. Karl, you're not off track at all. You're talking about opression and the rule of fear. The substance of it doesn't change, even when its not officially sanctioned. I'm glad I haven't had to live with gangsterism. There are three cities here where its big and powerful, but lucklily I haven't had to live in any of them.

  3. I recently watched a program about rich people in South Africa & their car jacking proof cars that have blow throwers on the side...