Saturday, 14 June 2008

Caged in?

We're nearing the end of our election reporting seminar here in Johannesburg and I must say it's been a rewarding and enriching experience. I suggest you check out the very interesting blog our 13 South African colleagues set up:

"Ubuntu Bomzantsi - Togetherness in the South"

Here's what Alani, one of the participants, had to say about the ongoing xenophobic attacks in South Africa:

How ironic is our country’s fight for freedom?

During this 10 day long seminar we had the chance to visit Constitutional Hill and a refugee camp in Glenvista Rifle Range in Johannesburg. After these visits I can not stop myself from thinking that there are many similarities between the imprisonment of political prisoners back in the apartheid era and keeping refugees in camps around the country now.

Here are some comparisons to help you understand. Our tour guide at Constitutional Hill told us that the prisoners were mainly fed bread, porridge, tea and sometimes they got some coffee with a bit of sugar and fruit. This was a little more than the six slices of bread, tea and sometimes fruit that the government is feeding refugees in the camps at the moment. Even the sleeping arrangements have some similarities. Prisoners had only one blanket, while the refugees also have to do with just one. Sleeping on the floor, cement or a tent floor, is another thing these people have in common.

This has left me with the question: are we really free in South Africa?

Even we South Africans are been caged in by all the barriers we’ve erected around our homes and workplaces to keep us safe from the escalating crime we face.

By stating all of this, I want to bring home the point that many South Africans still don’t have the freedom democracy promised us. It is a shame that in such a vibrant and beautiful country, we are in so many ways caged in. I hope we all rise to the occasion and live up to our own responsibility when it comes to freedom - especially the government!


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