Apart from Nelson Mandela, Gold, and more recently, the World Cup, South Africa is famous for something far less pleasant: apartheid.
I didn't engineer it, and I was glad when it was over, but I did witness some of it, and thought you might wonder what it was like from the perspective of the opressor. I hate putting it that way. I'm sure I've never opressed anyone in my life, but people are grouped, and there's no denying that I belonged to that group of opressors whether I liked it or not. I was born into it.
I probably began to become aware of apartheid when I was five years old. There was a railway station with two bridges crossing the lines: a 'Whites only' bridge and... the other one. As bridges go, they were probably equally good, but no person of colour was allowed to set foot on the hallowed bridge reserved for those of paler skin tone.
Once, in a fit of mischief, I ran across the 'wrong' bridge and was stopped by an angry black woman who grabbed me fiercely by the shoulder and instructed me to make use of 'my own' bridge. I couldn't understand her anger, but then, I didn't know what it was like to have to have a 'pass' just to be in town, or perhaps to be forcibly moved becuase one's home was in a 'white' area.
She wasn't really angry with me, but at five years old, one doesn't understand that - all one sees is the fury. I remember being very glad that I could walk across the 'White' bridge then - thereby avoiding that fierce woman. I wonder now what her history was - she must have been very embittered to take it out on a small child, even in such a trivial way. Terrible things must have been done to her.
Petty apartheid (the sort applied to bridges, benches and busses) would be funny if it wasn't so downright stupid. Stupidity can be funny, I'll admit, but not in this case. This is just sad. Some white people wanted to pretend they weren't in Africa at all, and the solution was to hide all black Africans (unles they were serving one in some way) from view. If they'd had enough money to build subways underneath the pavements, I suppose they'd have done it in order to contribute to this illusion. Sad. Stupid.
I suppose it can be an allegory for other things: things we'd rather not think about, which we relegate to the mental equivalent of the 'Other' bridge - out of sight, out of mind, something that should be attended to, but isn't. Maybe that's part of the reason I'm writing this
Coming up: schools, pass-laws, uniforms and bomb blasts (that should cover it).
Today's pic: I just like it, that's all.