“It’s always impossible until its done” Nelson Mandela
A DAY OF PRAYER AND REFLECTION.
ON SUNDAY – I was at the most famous church in Soweto, Regina Mundi where activists organized, held meetings prayed and were attacked by apartheid police during the 1970s, 80s and 90s The Church has to be rebuilt after it was completely destroyed by Apartheid police in pursuit of comrades. The service was e presided over by Bishop Sebastian Rousow. I spent most of my time outside, catching up with old friends and scouting out potential interviews for my clients . Trying to find the right people for my people to speak to everyone has a story to tell, everyone’s story is important, but finding the right one out of billions is a skill. While waiting outside I met tata Patrick, now a very old man. He tells me he has lived in Rockville Soweto since 1962, he was part of the Soweto Action Group Committee which was set up following the banning of all non-white political parties in South African, notably the ANC and PAC. He tells me with a faraway that police used to stand right where all the media cameras are, surround the church and shoot at people coming out of the church. He was even there when it was built. I can smell the whiff of stale alcohol on his breath. But he tells me that Mandela is a great man. A great tree has fallen he says. If you go to freedom Park which just behind the church you will see there are 95 indigenous trees which have been planted in honour of Mandela each year on his birthday the 18th of July. His son says each time he walks past those trees they represent freedom for him. Long Live they both say. But no one bothers to speak to Patrick. His old and rugged. The media crisscrossed past them waiting for the “big” political and international personalities. There are rumours that Winnie-Madikizela-Mandela might show up at the church, but the rumours are later proven untrue. I also meet Jane Nhlapho who has lived in Rovilled since 1967, and her friend Elizabeth Gwele from Dobsonville another Township in Soweto. They both describe how police used to frequently surround the church with caspers, mellow yellows, police and army vehicles, and shoot and throw tear-gas at activists locked up inside. Elizabeth told me that, as parents they frequented the church in search of their children, to see if they are okay, still together in one piece. Jane lost a family member right here at the church, a brother who disappeared – last seen at Regina Mundi Church. It’s pain-full to think about. They were running halter and skelter she says. Not knowing where to go or what to do. We were not free. We had not freedom of anything, movement, speech, anything. She looks as lars tall overwhelming Master-like figure. “Today I can stand here and speak to you like a fellow human being “she said. And that simply brings me to tears. I think of My brother Thente.
ROOM 209 – CHIEF ALBERT SISULU FLOOR – SOWETO HOTEL
Later in the day we go to the Soweto Hotel for the NRK team to edit and file their story of the day. I chose Soweto hotel, because of where it is and it represents with uncanny accuracy the current state of our country. It embodies in a few kilometres the character of South Africa. Because the contrasts in South Africa from here can’t be more jarring. Our window is face the Union Road – Shop names have changed but the buildings are still the same buildings from 1955 when more than 3000 South African of all races gathered to sign the freedom charter – a blue print for a democratic South Africa – During the darkest period in my country.
They unanimously declared:
- The People Shall Govern
- All groups shall have equal rights
- The figures shall share in the country’s wealth
- The land shall be shared among those who work in it
- All shall be equal before the law
- All shall enjoy equal human rights
- There shall be work and security
- The doors of learning and culture shall be opened file and edit and file the story of the day. I choose the Soweto hotel we go back to Soweto …
- There shall be houses Security and Comfort
- There shall be peace and friendship.
You can have all of the above in South African today. If you have money.Only.
BUT ON MONDAY
To say I’m broken would be an understatement. I am trying to be brave and say it’s okay. I’m here at the media centre as I write this. I imagine how full this room will be tomorrow frantic with journalist filing stories minute after minute, second after second, and I won’t be a part of it. I won’t even be at the FNB stadium tomorrow – because as a fixer my team does not think I should be there.get one. So I’ve been literally crying and I feel cheated somehow, except who can I tell. Except you. While noting instructions from my team Clinton my former boss walks past and say to me “where’s my script” and it brings back old memories of being in the news room where he would say the same thing to me… it took me while to write a story. I see Sam, waiting in line and she gives me the warmest hug and I start crying I try to walk away. Later Hajra comes and gives me a hug and says hello member of the A team. She is a sweet woman. I start crying. I leave because I’m now too emotional. “Are you OK my dear” Havard the camera–man asks me. “You seem, quite frankly – shattered” he says. I tell him I will be fine tomorrow. Yet in my heart I wonder if he wouldn’t be shattered like me if it were him in my shoes.
MEET THE FIXER
Jedi Ramalapa a South African Female journalist for 13 years. Maybe you don’t understand. I have covered Mandela stories so many times in my life and the one time it matters, not one is willing to hire me, except as a fixer. It’s maddening, I want to scream, tear off my clothes, cry, and what not. But it’s not the end of the world. I will tell my story here. As a blogger – because that will be the most authentic story I could ever tell. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to have a job – work to do , to be involved. It’s just I never thought that I would be a fixer in the biggest event of my country’s history instead of being the one telling the story. Not even have the memento of a press tag. But life does work in mysterious ways and I have to be grateful for what I have.
They are on their way to pick me up. It’s 8:12 am South African time. We’re going to the Stadium. I’m driving them