Friday, February 5, 2010

Invictus and South Africa today

     I know the movie, Invictus, is now out of most movie theatres, but I still recommend that you somehow get to see it -- look for the DVD or on Netflix, or whatever. It was a great 'feel good' movie.It is the story of Nelson Mendela and the South African rugby team. Mendela decides that that team, even though it had poor skills, even though it was all white except for one man, even so, that team could and should be the anchor to draw the country, both races together. All sorts of small and larger transformations occur in the movie. 

Capetown from Table Mtn
Robbens Island is to left center, Mendala's prison.
      My husband and I were in South Africa most of September, 2009. We traveled all over with many different guides. We tried to ask each guide how he thought the country was doing just about 15 years after Apartheid ended. We were particularly curious to find out how the black people felt about that historical event and where they thought their country was now. Of course, these were all people who were in the tourist business -- in addition to guides, waiters, bartenders, hotel employees and owners. etc. But to the man or woman, they were very pleased, and positive, and forward looking about their country. Also to the man or woman, they did not hold a grudge. I found that amazing. We know how horrible Apartheid was. The blacks had no freedom. They had a 2 pm curfew and had to be off the streets of white South African cities and towns, unless they had a paper pass. Then of course, there was poverty, inequality, and even brutality from the white authorities. Remember the whites were and are only 5% of the population. And still this tiny minority subjected the remainder of the South African people. But there is no grudge! Amazing!

                                                                                    Cape Point from Table Mountain
     The last week of our trip we had a white guide, a Jewish South African who had lived in Israel for 25 years, but who now was back in his homeland. He was the only one who told us about the trials that were held after the end of Apartheid. These were broadcast on the radio and TV, over loudspeakers in the streets and in schools and other public places These trials were for the atrocities that went both ways between racial sides. They were extremely difficult to listen to. People of both races were seen crying on the street corners as they listened. This went on for some weeks. But the understanding was that when these trials were over, the judgements would be over. There would be foregiveness and no revenge, no grudges. Nelson Mendela was extremely important in leading the people and making sure that this was the result of the trials. It seems to have worked.

Downtown Capetown from Table Mountain
     Our Jewish guide did say that he thought the country was at a crossroads. There needed to be more done about housing the poor. The very common slums in the townships needed to be improved and relocated. Land reform and redistribution had to take place slowly unlike in Zimbabwe but it had to take place. The progress in this direction was entirely too slow and it was unclear how long the poor would wait. But we found the country modern, beautiful, and very positive. Johannesburg and to some degree Capetown has crime problems, yes, but the more rural areas are delightful to travel in and the people are warm and friendly. In spite of Apartheid, there does not seem to be the racial bad feelings and undercurrent that we have in this country. It was amazing. I want to go back.

                                                 Stadium for 2010 World Cup
     So go see the movie and you will see the beginnings of these small transformations. I hope this wonderful country can continue to move forward, improve the daily life of the poor, protect their public lands, and animals and be an example for the other African countries who must follow them into the 21st century.

     My husband has shot literally thousands of photographs from this country and others in southern Africa. I have included some of these in this blog. You will probably see others on this blog site as time goes on.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article Ann and I too was moved by the movie Invictus.
    I've just started to read all your Blog sites.
    Great work