How Many Countries In Africa Qualify For World Cup South Africa: Pressing for Black Liberation

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South Africa: Pressing for Black Liberation

Whenever I think of South Africa, I think of my father who was a staunch anti-apartheid activist and one of the most intelligent and well-read people I have ever known. His library included the works of Baraka, Lenin, Marx and Stalin. He had street cred because he could run numbers with the best of them, smoked a pack of menthol cigarettes daily, and picked girls like he picked apples from a tree. He would talk to everyone about what was happening in South Africa on the street or in class. His intelligence was unparalleled, and he could argue for hours about any subject without making you feel like a complete idiot even though you knew you had no business trying to intellectually oppose him.

In my family, we often call our fathers and uncles “Baba” which is a Swahili word that indicates our ancestors’ relationship with them and is a term of respect. I still remember Baba’s red, black and green hat that said “Free Mandela” and his use of the word “Amandla”. I would sometimes laugh at him with my teenage arrogance and ask him why his latest “soap box” issue should distract me. And with sadness in his voice, he would tell me that until Nelson Mandela was released, the world would not seem right to him. For some reason, I understood that this was not one of his typical radical arguments. This personal effort to see Nelson Mandela free represented something much deeper and painful. It seemed almost too painful for him to discuss with the same enthusiasm and passion with which he argued about money, politics and religion. He wanted to go to South Africa to fight directly alongside those he considered his brothers and sisters in the freedom movement. He told me about the oppressive education of the Bantu, and the violent rebellions of students who refused to continue being educated for subsistence.

Recently, I was able to study abroad in South Africa as part of a doctoral program focusing on educational policy. We traveled there to study the educational system, and the country’s efforts to repair the damage caused by years of oppression on their educational institutions. Our biggest challenge as students was trying to conceptualize what this meant for the millions of South Africans who wanted to pursue higher education. We were constantly talking about the roles played by colonialism, hegemony and racism in the structure of Apartheid, but I don’t think any of us could fully understand how this affected the lives of people living this experience on a daily basis to day

Our study abroad in South Africa gave us a glimpse of what it must mean to work within a system that has historically prevented all students from having access to the best possible education. We attended lectures at the University of Pretoria, University of the Witwatersrand, and Tshwane North College for FET. In these lectures, there were administrators, teachers and students. Each of these people gave us a lens through which to see the process of transforming South Africa’s higher education system in a post-apartheid system. I saw the influence that the apartheid regime had on the socio-economic status of many Black South Africans. The stratification that existed as part of apartheid was evident even though the apartheid system had ended over a decade earlier.

When I took pictures of young children in Soweto who were begging for Rand (South African money), I felt more emotional about the bridge that many of the educators were trying to build for those who had been historically disadvantaged in their country. I wondered aloud how these educators could achieve their goal of achieving integration in schools that were historically categorized by the four races in South Africa: Whites, Indians, Coloreds and Blacks. I didn’t understand their racial categories, their monuments to Dutch colonists (Voortrekker), or how and why the whites still keep control of many of the businesses and real estate in the country.

I visited Nelson Mandela’s former home which is located in a small area of ​​Soweto not far from the Hector Pieterson Museum. Mandela’s former home has become a museum where a person can walk through the house of the man who was imprisoned for 27 years on Robbin Island. At this Mandela Family Museum, the guide took us into the kitchen and told us that the Mandela’s (Nelson and Winnie both) often kept the fridge locked for the time they lived there because they were told that their food. he would be poisoned. The guide took us through the small house and explained that Mandela tried to move back into this house after he was released from prison but could only stay there for eleven days because reporters from all over the world camping outside the house.

Later on the same day, I visited the Hector Pieterson Museum. I saw pictures of the students (many of them children) protesting during the Soweto student uprising, some of whom lost their lives as the police shot at them. The Hector Pieterson Museum is surrounded by vendors who tell you their stories in their actions and words. Some are relatives of the deceased children, and they will tell you which one they had and how they were related to them. These relatives wanted to see if we appreciated what happened on this historic site when Hector Pieterson and many others gave their lives in the name of freedom. Hector Pieterson is the dead 12-year-old student featured in the famous photo of two children in school uniform carrying his bloody body after he was shot down by police. During the uprising Soweto students shouted “Amandla” which means power to signify their solidarity with the imprisoned Nelson Mandela and the activist organisation, the African National Congress.

A few days into my trip we visited a place called God’s window in Mpumalamanga and I was struck by the beauty and hope that was still there in a place that was ruled for so many years by fear, hatred and pain. Standing at God’s Window, I was no longer focused on the hegemonic practices of European countries that were colonizing third world countries around the world. Instead, I thought of my father and remembered his energy and spirit.

I was eighteen years old when Paul Nakawa Sanders died in August 1988. Amiri Baraka praised my Baba in his book, entitled Compliments and noted that Nakawa transitioned from the Black Nationalism of the 1960s to a better understanding of the need for global activism or internationalism in his later years. My father never lived to see the man he admired, who was unjustly imprisoned for twenty-seven years, become President Nelson Mandela. His “Abolish Apartheid” t-shirts were faded and torn by the time apartheid was actually abolished. But I saw all these things for him. I stood on top of the mountain at God’s Window and saw that the beauty of South Africa is that it still exists. It stands in all its glory as a symbol of all that can happen when people – simple citizens, some children, some adults, some ex-revolutionaries, and even their suspicious daughters – believe enough to ignore those who would oppress them and continue their search for Black liberation.

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