In a barren nation where bodies parted from souls daily, the womb of my mother found home ground to give birth to a soul that was me. The rebirth of a nation’s redemption dually became the birth of I, Mandisa Mfenyana. In this world where life was given with no promise that it would be repaid, the year nineteen ninety four arrived with a cheque and it seemed life was returned to those who had been robbed of it.
The potent fragrance of false hope lingered on in the atmosphere after the first democratic election took place on April 27th, nineteen ninety four. (South African History Online , 2015). Optimism became the order of the year for the majority whom had undergone oppression for over forty years under Apartheid government (History.com, 2017). It is without doubt that at the slight site of light at the end of the tunnel, people who had been walking in darkness would have new found courage to move forward.
Oblivious to the imposter that posed as freedom in its entirety for all blacks, I attended what was deemed as high end schools. With little or close to no knowledge, I acquired the accent that labelled me as ‘smart’ and ‘worthy’ in exchange for my culture and roots. As unsuspecting young hopefuls, we, the handful of black students, grabbed the education our parents fought so hard to pay for with both hands. Stories of a life of lack engraved in our minds, all we knew was to receive without question.
It had never dawned on me that I had never interrogated the notion of being fed the history of our former oppressor’s ancestors – Adolph Hitler for example and knowing nothing of Steve Bantu Biko’s existence.
Now living in twenty seventeen I find myself playing catch up to my roots and the background that is and was my birth right. Ironically I find myself proving my worth to my own kind. That I am… black enough, I am in touch with my roots, that I am not a coconut. Nowhere near born in that time, I still face the atrocities of apartheid. Somehow, the colour of my skin has become an inheritance of a burden after another.
Merriam Webster defines democracy as ‘ (a) a government by the people.’ Further stating ‘ (b) a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections (Merriam Webster, 2017). And apparently this country entered into a democracy the same year I was born? Democracy? Where?
Is it really democracy when visiting a relative still requires one to walk to a river to fetch water? Is it still democracy when well established white individuals are still calling Africans kaffirs? Is it still democracy when the ‘suspiciously dressed’ black man has to explain what he has come to do at the grocery store? I beg to differ with this idealism that is democracy in South Africa, it’s an illusion. An illusion sold to my parents and my parents’ parents, so thanks, but not thanks I’m not buying.