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The Seeds of Wrath
The world knows a great deal about apartheid. It knows it as a repressive political system which denies political representation to 14,000,000 South Africans because they are not white; it knows it as a divisive social system which keeps people apart, dividing them on colour lines and punishing those who try to cross these lines. But the effects of apartheid in term of social behaviour and on cultural development are less well known.
To understand the effects of apartheid it is necessary to think of the daily lives of the people and the ways in which their lives are regulated by apartheid.
It means standing for hours in a bus-queue, because there are too few buses specially set aside for black people; it means having to pass theatres and swimming pools with no thought of ever entering them, because they are set aside for white people; and because the restrictions extend to the thoughts people think, and because the laws apply to both black and white, it means that all people in South Africa are denied the right to read certain books because the government believes them to be subversive of its apartheid society.
Apartheid means that sportsmen like Basil D’Oliviera, Steve Makone, and Precious Mackenzie could never represent their own country because they were not white; that singers and actors like Miriam Makeba and Lionel Ngamane would be restricted because of their colour to appearing in certain places and before certain audiences - a coloured cast could perform Verdi’s "La Traviata" but no nonwhites could attend a performance before the State President.
The list of restrictions is endless - these are only a few small examples. But what they add up to is a division which breeds hostility. At sports events, if white and black are present, they support opposing sides and the result is friction - so much so that in many grounds only whites are allowed.
It is illegal for white and black to play chess together. And whites who tried to play football in a team with black members were prosecuted
And in a society where these ugly barriers exist, it is better to pretend that they are not there. The result is that the writers and poets of white South Africa are incapable of producing any work which truthfully reflects their society; and so deep has this kind of blindness entered that no work of any real worth has been produced in South Africa for many years.
Perhaps one might expect the writers among the blacks, in a situation full of tension and pain, to produce works which live. But for them apartheid presents another problem; to be frank is to be banned. And so writers like Alex la Guma were silenced by banning orders, or others, like Alfred Hutchinson and Bloke Modisane fled the country. For Nat Nakasa the pledge he was required to sign - to leave his country and never return proved too much; he committed suicide in New York.
Even white writers - Andre Brink, for instance - who have dared to criticise, or appear to criticise, the apartheid society have suffered. Their works have been banned, or they have been savagely attacked by the official spokesmen of apartheid.
The failure of writers to write, or of people to understand each other - all these are indications of the deeper evil; the failure of communication. But what is little understood by the outside world is that this is a failure legislated for. It is a failure which has been carefully designed.
It is the intention of those who have constructed the apartheid society, and who intend that it should last forever, that those who make up the society should be prevented from communicating with each other. Black and white must be cut off from each other, must be unable to communicate. It is on this division that apartheid rests. This is the true meaning of apartheid. And it is this that inflicts the true terrible wound on South African society.
But the real damage is in daily human relations. I have seen white children standing in one of the mixed buses rather than sit beside anyone who was not white and this seems to me so complete a rejection of another human person that it goes much further than the division and separation backed by law. From this kind of rejection comes a complete lack of any feeling of common humanity; the suffering of human being ceases to be real because he has ceased to be a real human being.
This is the situation which has been created in South Africa today. The tensions are real, the threat of a violent eruption constant. And this must not be thought of simply as the product of political factors or arguments. It is a simple truth that human relations between people have deteriorated so far that dialogue, understanding, friendship - all these are impossible.
This is the effect of apartheid in terms of the society - this is its all pervasive extent: it breeds, if it breeds anything, hostility: often the result is simply the bitter sterility which will bring about violence.
2011-11-29 15:00 编辑:wjy2005tom