I vaguely remember when you were imprisoned back in 1964. I was in the 8th Grade. Kennedy and Medgar were just killed the year before. That dashed the hopes of many disenfranchised people like Myself, my Family and a Nation. We still had Martin, Robert and Malcolm amongst us though as well as Angela D., Fred Hampton, Stokely, H. Rap and Bobby Seale. Who will pick up the Torch now . . . i wonder ?
What was happening in South Africa was wrong, but it did not affect me . . .so i thought. I remember the names of Biko and Nelson’s co-accused which included people that were not so familiar such as Walter Sisulu, Dennis Goldberg, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Mosoaledi, Andrew Mlangeni - all ANC officials and Ahmed Kathrada, the former leader of the South African Indian Congress. Yeah, i like most of my Brothers and Sisters were disconnected from any valid realities that could or would have such a profound effect on our future. I was not much on the News, and the News was not much on keeping us informed of the News. Besides, we Black Folk, Colored Folk and Negroes had our own agendas and issues we were contending with . . . daily. We were focused of such things like how to stay out of the way of “The Man” and have some fun at the same time. A decent paying job helped. And contrary to the popular lore and belief, we were not strung out on Fried Chicken and Watermelon, we ate Salads too. So much for indoctrination and the other bullshit people believe so that they may see themselves as superior. I often questioned who were the real Spear Chuckers ?
Life was relatively good during those times of our lives even though Social unrest was nipping at our souls on many levels with Segregation, Racism, Low Paying Jobs, the Viet Nam War and of course . . . Assassinations. We were unknowingly preparing ourselves with our slumber for much unrest still yet to come. As the years eased on by we saw Malcolm, Bobby and Martin bite the dust and leave us to fend for our selves. Out in California The Panthers were representing . . . i mean like they were talking about such thing as Black Pride and Power to the People. I could relate to that. It was a proud moment when John and Carlos pumped their fist on the podium at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico . . . they won but they lost. That seems to be pretty much the story for Black Folks, a saga that continues to this day. Hoses, Ropes, Bullets, Drugs, Prison and Death and more Death. But we still have our hope . . .don’t we ?
This is what Nelson means to me now. I look back with my 20 / 20 hindsight and i see that he was fighting for what should have always been . . . parity, not just a chance. but Equality on all levels. How did we ever forget that we are all related and we are birthed from the same Mother? Families and Institutions such as Rhodes and Debeers further the dastardly plight and suffering of a people because of their greed as did the Dutch, Italians, French, English Crown and whoever else had a notion to. It was a low time for Humanity starting with a people who once reigned as the Kings and Queens of the Richest Land on earth. The people were exploited, enslaved, persecuted, oppressed, beaten, killed and ostracized from their civility as we see still reflected in our present day societies.
I had a pair of Platform shoes during those days. They made me feel bigger, taller, just like my Grandma ‘ouise or my Aunt Bessie did when they told me how wonderful and smart i was. Those words of love and encouragement always made me feel better about my self and i believed that i could accomplish anything. This usually lasted until we had to ride a Bus, or enter Public Buildings separately or did not get that Job. Apartheid . . . the setting apart of our Brothers. Aren’t we all created by the same God from the same source . . . Dust and Spirit ?
The struggle continues within and without as we are still set aside, such as the other side of the tracks, the other side of the room with no true honest representation of who we are in the Media, Hollywood or any other Capitalistic oriented industry. I remember such companies as Coca Cola, CitiBank, Sony and General Mills who refused to divest themselves from South Africa while we the people were in the struggle. That’s right, we all are a part of the struggle, whether you know it, acknowledge it or not, regardless of what your Ethnic or Cultural persuasion is. Nelson so eloquently epitomized this when he was released from Prison. I think most people expected a Blood Bath, but he offered and proffered Peace. Many White folks didn’t like that . . . we cheered. That’s all we ever wanted . . Peace and Equality.
We still have yet to arrive, and the struggle does continue as is so evident every day we read the paper or turn on the news if they choose to inform the people of the truth. But we know . . . we know because of the lives of those who sacrificed their lives that we may hopefully awaken as one humanity. So without further ado, i just had to take this time to simply say to you my Brother . . . Thank You Nelson thank you Mr. Mandela, Thank You Madiba.
© 28 June 2013 : william s. peters, sr.