15 August, 2012

In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the narrator’s father Atticus Finch says, “Shoot all the bluejays, if you can hit ‘em. But remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Mockingbirds do nothing but give us music to enjoy. Images that awaken my thoughts of the Marikana massacre. What I had thought were mockingbirds, have been shot like snapshots for raising their voices.

My heart is mourning. My thoughts, restless. What is it that is happening in this beautiful, rich African country? What is happening in my country? Your country? No! Our South Africa.

Is this the democracy, the freedom of speech that our forefathers have fought for? Have we, as a nation, emancipated ourselves from mental slavery like Bob Marley sings in Redemption Song? Is this massacre the result of un-freed minds?

These questions remain unanswered. All I can now do is make assumptions. Nonetheless, the cries that these mockingbirds have made have pierced through some of our young ears and are engraved in our minds like a scar.

In my own imperfect world, miners have been the reason that South Africa can be globally recognised for its economy. The reason that the world knows us as leaders in the mining industry.

As I sit still in silence, my mind loses itself again. Was this the right approach? Was it morally right for our fathers, brothers and uncles to be brutally killed like that? What picture of liberation are we painting for ourselves and the rest of the country?

16 August, 2012

With no worries, I know I will wake up to a healthy succulent breakfast that my breadwinner provides. I don’t always realise what a privilege it is, but surprisingly, today I do. I’m sitting on a brown wooden chair in the dining room wondering if the heart-torn children and families that these late gentlemen are possibly leaving behind, are looking forward to living life without what happens to be their only breadwinners. Possibly, without meals and the good times they have made possible.

All that I know is that they are slowly but surely going to form part of dust. Yes, the wind will surely drive their souls to travel with us as we write chapters of our South African history. The blood that they have shed will be like a teacher’s red pen that marks the wrongs and rights in what we will be writing. Their cries will linger in some of our minds like a judge’s voice pointing out justice in a rape case. Is this the definition of a better living for all?


* Published in the Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology 2013, a new multilingual literary anthology of original short stories, essays, poetry and illustrations by South African high school students. Buy a copy at any Paperight-registered copy shop to read more, and to find out how to submit work for next year’s edition. Visit Paperight to find your nearest outlet.