Sunday, September 28, 2008

South Africa - The Remains of Apartheid

I never saw such a mass of electric fences and high walls as in Johannesburg. It´s impossible for me to imagine how this country will ever find peace if one faces sings like ´Armed Response´ on literally every wall with barb wire on top.

It was very impressive to me to see how the people of South Africa got rid of the very inhuman regime of Apartheid without a civil war (although there was a lot of bloody fighting). Now the people rule the country that represent more than 80% of the inhabitants. Hm, is this true? Not really because all the big money is still in the hand of the so called superior race and money talks.
It´s so obvious what the default skin color of a waiter is and what the color of the guesthouse owner and this makes me sad and angry.
I had several talks to black people about the remains of Apartheid and it turned out that there are a lot of achivements but that there´s much too much junk left.

My visit to the Apartheid museum in Johannesburg made it even worse because as a German with all the crap in mind that the Nazis did in the Third Reich the Apartheid looked really really scary to me. I will not put Apartheid and the murder of millions of Jews on the same level but at least the road seemed the same.

I had the chance to visit the Township Soweto near Johannesburg with the Housekeeper Ntombe of my guesthouse. She lives there and gave me at least a little glimpse behind the facades. Unbelievable that wide areas of a city as big as Munich still have no electricity or canalization. Walking through the rows of tin shacks was weird because I got aware again how damn rich we are in Germany and how much of our all day life we take for granted. I guess simply with the value of my stupid digital camera one could build more than one brick house in Soweto.

I have to admit that things seem to improve a bit in the Townships. I went to a site where the government builds hundreds of little brick houses as replacement for the tin shacks. I talked to an old woman who sat on the concrete floor of her new house. Actually the floor was all that existed because the rest of the house wasn´t finished yet but I got the impression that even a piece of concrete could give a little bit of dignity and hope back to this woman. Ntombe was very proud to show me the freedom plaza of Soweto and the very decent houses of Desmond Tuto and Nelson Mandela and she has every reason to be proud of it. My respect for Madela is even higher now.

The floor of the new house. The woman washed the dishes on the spot where the kitchen will be.

Of course it´s easy for me to make pathetic statements because I had the luck of being born with a skin color that is considered as the superior one for absolutely stupid reasons. But after all this won´t pretend me to wish all the people of Soweto a better future.

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