by Jean Lowrie-Chin
|With Hubie at the home of Nelson Mandela in Soweto|
|Our guide Richard Thabo Muso was emotional as he showed us the memorials of the 176 children killed during a peaceful demonstration in Soweto in 1976|
|Metal sculpture of police and dog at murder site in Soweto|
|Metal sculpture of the children at the site of the massacre|
How special it would be if the day of the Tivoli operation in May 2010 could become Jamaica’s Day of Reconciliation, as we work to heal those bitter memories, and assign garrisons to the graveyard of old-style politics.
|The altar at Regina Mundi Catholic Church, the corner shot off by police raiding a meeting of ANC activitists|
|The hand-less statue of Jesus|
We stopped at the Regina Mundi Church where the priest would allow clandestine meetings of Freedom Fighters. Richard showed us the corner of the alabaster altar, shot off by the police, and a statue of Jesus without hands – one hand shot off, the other chopped off. They wanted to show the Freedom Fighters that their Jesus was disarmed – how wrong they were!
|South Africa's Black Madonna|
Richard deliberately drove us into a dusty squatter settlement to show us that his people are still struggling to find their way.
Legacy and Inheritance
Soweto was a vivid backdrop to the Conference which took us to Sandton City, in Johannesburg. The International Women’s Forum (IWF) comprises over 5,000 women leaders from 33 countries. We meet twice yearly, this time under the theme “Legacy & Inheritance: Journey to the Future”. The IWF South Africa Chapter held a copy-book Conference, fielding powerful and eloquent speakers, who triggered so many “aha moments”, that our Jamaican contingent just kept wishing that our political leadership were in the room.
of our group were Jamaica Chapter President Minna Israel, Immediate Past
President Pat Ramsay, Marjan deBruin, Valerie Facey, and Sharon Lake.
|The Jamaica Contingent at the IWF Conerstone Conference|
|Dr Nosazana Dlamani-Zuma, former anti-apartheid activist and Chairperson of the African Commission (AUC).|
Our Soweto guide Richard, had spoken affectionately of Joe Slovo, a White man who was in the forefront of the anti-apartheid struggle for half a century. At his funeral on January 15, 1995, President Mandela noted, “When future generations look back on the 1994 breakthrough, they will be justified in saying: Uncle Joe was central in making it happen.” Joe Slovo had asked to be buried with Blacks, the first such recorded in the country.
Every single speaker – Black, White, young, old, expressed their love and admiration for Nelson Mandela. Poet and Chair of the African Renaissance Institute Mongane Wally Serote recalled that at the first sitting of the democratically elected Parliament, Nelson Mandela crossed the floor and hugged every member of the opposition. We felt in these individuals, a heightened consciousness of the difficult journey and the importance of individual responsibility.
|Poet and playwright Dr Gcina Elsie Mhlophe|
|Totsie with Nelson Mandela's Chef Brette - we had a wonderful meal at her home.|
At the home of Busisiwe “Totsie” Memela, her elegant surroundings were in contrast to the
struggles of her life. Exiled from age 16 to 35, she used disguises to take supplies across the
border and hitchhiked on Aeroflot from Angola for military training in Cuba. The ever
smiling Totsie says she is grateful for the scholarships she had been offered along the way,
and felt privileged that she could return to her country to contribute.
With such conscious and focused leaders, and their disciplined, courteous citizens,
South Africa will no doubt achieve their aim of economic liberation.