Tag Archive: Independence


The Mahatma

He walked with us,
us common folk,

&

Empire trembled as he raised a fistful of salt…

He walked with us,
us common folk,

&

Empire teetered as he weaved his home-spun…

He walked with us,
us common folk,

&

Empire was rendered impotent by his moral conscience…

He walked with us,
us common folk,

&

Empire crumbled,

&

the sun finally set…

He walks with us still,
us common folk,

&

we dare not give up the struggles…

He walks with us still,
us common folk,

&

we rise up,
we fight,

for he walks with us still,

The Mahatma*

* – Mahatma means ‘Great Soul’

I Will Vote for the ANC … But for heavens sake, Why?

In 1993, almost three years after our return from exile, I finally ceased being a ‘stateless’ person and became a citizen of South Africa.

I was born and grew up in exile, my parents having had to leave their home, their country, and their families as the ANC propelled the struggle for freedom against Apartheid into the international spotlight. 

Following the un-banning of the liberation movements and the release of political prisoners, we returned to South Africa as 1990 grew to a close. 

South Africa at the time was riven by hideous state-sponsored violence, with the Apartheid regime actively arming and running hit-squads in the townships and supporting various right-wing elements in an attempt to throttle the birth of a free, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic South Africa. 

The country stood at a precipice. 

Ahead lay the spectre of a country at war with itself. 

We stepped back, away from the abyss.
 

A rainbow nation was born. 

Today, twenty years on, we vote in our fifth general election.

I shall vote. 

I shall not spoil my ballot. 

I shall be voting for the African National Congress.

Why? 

Many will ask the question, and it is a very important question.

My reasons are simple. 

I will not attempt to make a single excuse for the corruption, the misuse of state funds, the horrendous crime, the poor standards of service-delivery, and many, many other issues that affect the lives of everyday South Africans. 

There can be no excuses. ‎

And yet, I will be voting for the party that liberated South Africa, and that party is the ANC. 

Not because I am a rabid flag-waving ANC supporter. 

And most definitely  not because I do not see the failures of the ANC, and furthermore not because I am unable to understand the frustrations of so many of our fellow compatriots. 

I will be voting for the ANC because the ANC is the most mature political party across our political spectrum, where all South Africans, regardless of race, creed, gender, and sexual-orientation  can still find a home in the party that liberated South Africa from the yoke of racial tyranny and oppression. 

I will be voting for the ANC because I believe that the ANC is not just the party of Mandela, Tambo, Sisulu, Slovo, Dadoo, Hani, Fischer and Mbeki, but that the foundations that those fearless leaders laid, and the ideals which the Mandelas, Tambos, Sisulus, Slovos, Dadoos, Fischers, Hanis, and Mbekis, amongst countless others,  nurtured and gave their lives for still need to be realised.

The struggle is far from over. 

As we approach our elections, across the ocean, the world’s largest democracy, India, is on the cusp of electing a  right-wing, ultra-nationalist demagogue, Narendra Modi, as it’s next Prime Minister. 

The Indian National Congress, the party of Mahatma Gandhi and of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru may suffer a humiliating defeat at the polls. 

The Indian National Congress has no one but itself to blame for its woes. 

It’s failings has nudged India towards the precipice of being consumed by the politics of hate, mistrust and suspicion of other communities. 

The African National Congress of South Africa too, has no one to blame but itself for the position it finds itself in today. 

We too have seen, with horror, the scourge of xenophobic poison flowing through our land. 

That is why I shall vote for the African National Congress of South Africa, because the ANC is the only organisation that has consistently, and long before 1994, been true to the internationalist ideals that our very own concept of uBuntu exemplifies. 

Someone once said that the aberrations of individuals must never detract from the cause as a whole.

The cause that the ANC fought for was a just cause, and delivered unto us a country infused with the ideals of justice, equality, and freedom. 

As a South African of Indian origin, I believe it is imperative for the formerly oppressed minority communities in our country to further strengthen and forge anew the solidarity with the majority of our fellow compatriots that was so evident in our united stand during the struggle against Apartheid divisiveness and tyranny. 

I am an African, and my fate and the fates of those dear to me are inextricably fused with the fate of our beautiful country. ‎

I will be voting.

And I will be voting for the ANC, once again because the African National Congress is the only political party that has consistently fought for, and struggled, under the harshest divisive machinations of the  Apartheid regime, to always maintain, as the Freedom Charter proclaims, that South Africa belongs to all those who live in it, regardless of race, caste, tribe, gender, sexual-orientation, and creed.

The future does not seem bleak to me, though I am not blind to the appalling inequality that scars our society, because I too believe that the aberrations of ANC members, MP’s, Cabinet Ministers, and even the President, shall not consume the ANC and it’s cause, which still is to ensure a better life for all South Africans. 

Is my reasoning flawed? Perhaps. 

Do I sound like a ‘my party right or wrong’ blind supporter? I probably do. 

But I shall be voting with my conscience, and my conscience will not allow me to vote for the myriad other parties that offer South Africa little else but platitudes, whilst stoking the embers of divisive toxicity. 

I will vote for the ANC, the only political party in South Africa that, I do believe, has the interests of all South Africans, regardless of race, creed, gender, or sexual-orientation, at its very core. 

There is still much work yet to be done before we can ever truly honour the ideals that Mandela, Tambo, Sisulu, Slovo, Dadoo, Hani, and Mbeki personified.‎

It is only together, all South Africans striving in our own ways to realise the ideals that once meant so much, and that now, more than ever, must compel us to endeavour towards. 

Amandla!

The Struggle Continues!

And the struggles continue…

Mandela in Kerala

Madiba in Kerala.

A comrade from the southern Indian state of Kerala shared the following anecdote with my father sometime in the mid-1980’s in New Delhi …

… On a trip to his home state of Kerala, the comrade said,

“…I was on a small fishing boat with some other comrades, we were going to an anti-Apartheid meeting that had been organised in a small town.

During the course of the boat ride, I kept hearing the boat-man’s voice, as he was singing, and quite loudly too, a song in Malayalam,

And I kept hearing what sounded like the name ‘Mandela’, over and over again,

So I asked the boat-man who or what this ‘Mandela’ was?

“You come from the city, and YOU don’t know who MANDELA is?

A Poem for Jawaharlal Nehru

Pandit-Ji*

1.

The moon cast an enveloping shadow over the teeming multitudes,

as they made their tryst with destiny**,

with you as the bearer of the light,

and at the stroke of the midnight hour,

you emerged an icon, from the long and desolate night.

Long years had passed,
since those humid evenings spent,
languishing in jail,

yet your mind remained unshackled,
putting words on paper in the dim candlelight,

as the gaudy glare of empire began to pale.

2.

Today,
you live,

within us,
though not amongst us,

and,

your discovery,
your glimpses,

smoulder within me,

your immortal words,
my compass.

I am now,
the soul of nations,
once suppressed,

that have,
found utterance.

I am now,
me.

I am now,
finally,

free.

* – ‘Pandit-Ji’ was the name that Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, was respectfully called.

** – excerpts from Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech on 15th August 1947

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