SA’s angry middle child and its quest to re-write history with colour
Written by: Tunicia Phillips
Land grabs an old phenomenon with a new song-he single most highlighting act of defiance against the bureaucratic processes that govern the rules of the haves and have-nots.
Arriving in Extension 6 Eldorado Park on the morning of 6 May flooded my senses with nostalgia as I looked into the faces of the same people whose attempts at occupying land failed back in 2009. Some were part of a group of civic leaders, whom I remembered as a community journalist, when dozens of petitions were signed and a slew of futile meetings were hosted with government on one single issue, housing. I remembered Donne Reece, a man with tremendous respect for the processes set out by government to regulate communication between civic organisations and its departments. I remembered how I would get weekly updates on fruitless meetings with officials and wild goose chases for the results of environmental impact assessment studies that were the alleged cause of development delay. I remember marches, optimism and energised civic leadership that were so confident that government had heard their cry.
This century old cry for some had begun before 1913 when the San and Khoi had their land taken away. Many have had successful attempts at tracking their lineage back to their forefathers and mobilised more fruitless attempts at reclaiming their family’s land in the land redistribution process. Alas, government announces plans to include their clans in the land redistribution process in 2015.
But the plight of South Africa’s indigenous people is a whole other rant fit for another day.
It would take another 6 years before another illegal land occupation attempt is birthed in the same year as that landmark announcement. There have been some notable developments in Eldorado Park’s neighbouring areas. Freedom Park popped up by no legal means during the mid-90’s and has since flourished with developments of new roads, houses, schools, sanitation and wellness centres. It’s no wonder that Eldorado Park, the neglected middle child between the blooming Soweto and Freedom Park is now persistent that 27 years of waiting is unacceptable. Government has also thrown the Kliptown development card out in defence of the area’s neglect saga, but the well deserving birth place of the Freedom Charter has not seen a house developed in over 100 years. I’ve been to Kliptown on more than enough occasions to know that the remarkably eye catching Walter Sisulu Square is a magnificently effective distraction from the impoverished conditions of the people who defiantly opened their doors to the likes of the late Nelson Mandela and many others when the they needed a hide out from the apartheid regime. Kliptown is an example of a failed Freedom Charter. Oh the irony.
It is no wonder that now 21 years after the birth of this democracy, communities see their defiance as the same struggle with a different enemy. It is no surprise that South Africa’s middle child sees history as a black and white crafted picture. It is unquestionably this picture that has and will lead to a new revolution. One that rewrites history with colour, and one that justifies its defiance with a list of social injustices only fit for animals.