- Mahatma Gandhi on the 12 March 1930 led a 24 day non- violent salt march against the British salt monopoly. That sparked large scale civil disobedience against the British Raj salt laws by millions of Indians.
- In August 28, 1963 one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history; the great march on Washington transpired. Nearly 250 000 people descended to Washington for the peaceful demonstration.
- Rosa Parks will forever be remembered as the lady who sat down, against an unjust system
- Martin Luther King preached the philosophies of ‘turn the other cheek’ and ‘loving thy enemies’.
- The White rose movement played their part in history against the Nazi regime.
The philosophies of non- violence displayed here by these movements were historic, potent, influential. Their acts of peaceful protestation were powerful and these man and woman of yesteryear were adamant that such demonstrations were imperative in eradicating the diseases of social injustices and social famine feasting within our spaces. Their belief was that peace nourished the most wounded and hatred filled souls, that sitting down evokes as much justice as a bullet.
Whether it was the umbrella movement, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s bed- in for peace, Desmond Tutu leading an anti-apartheid march, these veterans were champions of change. They were the epitome of peaceful resistance and because of that, their names will forever be engraved in our history books.
Why am I scratching my head as my hand brushes my chin in immense thought? Because South Africa is burning, not only South Africa, but the world and our voices have succumbed to violence. Vandalism, loss of life, destruction to property; these acts of violent protestations are most distinctively a far cry of the peaceful resistance mirrored by our predecessors.
The question becomes, how did we cross the seamless line of non-violent resistance, to the extent that we have these violent outbursts displayed on our streets. When did throwing faeces and stones become our means of debating? When did burning down schools form a basis for justification for authoritative failures? How is it, an individual is necklaced on the streets and we call it justice? Social justice.
Of violence is hardly a new phenomenon and hardly a South African challenge at that, such as the student revolt and labour strikes of France, the Ferguson unrest, or the Egyptian revolution of 2011 against the Mubarak regime.
Violence is prevalent on our platforms and our system has become infested with this disease. However we should bear in mind that protestations occur for a purpose. There are usually underlying elements that birth a protest, demonstrations don’t just happen. They are usually founded on a problem, a dilemma, a cause and hardly a baseless act against any authoritative agency. As Frantz Fanon once said, “When we revolt it’s not for a particular culture. We revolt simply because, for many reasons, we can no longer breath.”
What leads these protestation from the corridors of silence towards the other end of the stick tainted with excrement, with flames dancing on our roof tops and stones being lashed at our men and women in blue? Anger and Frustration. These elements become the root of many altercations as they bubble within like a volcano awakened from its dormancy and violence becomes unleashed in fury.
Anger is further exacerbated when the powers that be fail to acknowledge and take cognizance of the perils dancing at their footsteps. They put on the mask of ignorance hoping to sweep it under the tainted rug, to the detriment of the fragile social systems.
On the fence we have canaries singing;
- “ The malicious evil streak is evident in the disrespectful manner they treat anything and everything the Whiteman has designed or built.” ….it is not a south African mentality, it is a kaffir mentality-full stop Tia Mysoa – south Africa’s kaffir mentality Friday, march 4,2011
- “Kaffirs acting like the petulant, emotionally-stunted children they are” @EU Collapseblog twitter
- “Bloody savages! You are already privileged to be able to study at a university, but taking it for granted!” Onertha Lothbrok @onerthafire
It’s this vulgarity that fuels the fire and sees the white wall every bit white, peace spat on, and the art of violence every bit sweeter. With talks around a table with man in suits who have graciously spared some time away from the gravy train; a lost cause. Not even they can tame these lions and lioness after all they are their sons and daughters but what Marikana proved; their brothers as well.
What violence becomes is merely a mouth piece and the masses realize there is power in destruction. It is apparent to them that the only way to get them to listen is through feet shuffling, fist pumping and fire bombs. However in essence it can be said that, “Violence is man recreating himself.” Frantz Fanon
What the suits forget is that the masses are human. That respect and empathy are the fundamental building blocks to constructive and effective communication. “Everything can be explained to the people, on the single condition that you want them to understand.” Frantz fanon
Hence they expect you to listen. They expect to be respected. They expect you Mr Suit, the man they voted in power; to come down to their level; to comprehend their struggles. But then again we forget what’s on the other side of the fence when we sitting on the gravy train and smelling the roses.