“Complaining is not a strategy!”
                                    Vala Afshar

President Zuma must step down!

That is a polite way of saying: ‘Zuma, MUST FALL!!! I find it infuriating that such a conniving, manipulative, corrupt monster can be President of this land I love so much. The final crux of Zuma’s machinations came about when he dismissed the finance minister, Pravin Gordhan together with six other ministers.

Everyone that I knew and spoke to was shocked and horrified. I was totally delighted to hear that people were not prepared to take this lying down. A mass demonstration against Zuma was organised for Friday, 7th April. It was to be held all over South Africa – Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and yes, even in my own little town of George! I wanted to shout aloud in sheer relieved delight. At long last the people were not prepared to let Zuma Nkandla his bullish way forward! Forget the divisiveness of political parties and colour. People were forming a united front to say: Zuma must go!

The singer and actress, Marloe Scott Wilson said: ” Everyone that can, should go, should march. This is South African citizens time. We need to march as a nation. We need to show our concern for all citizens. Do something. Write something. Sign something. Say something. Fly the flag and let our voices ALL be heard! If you have workers, join them, take your children, stand in your village, show unity as proud South Africans. We are a beautiful, strong, caring nation fighting for a freedom from corruption, lies, racial stirring, looting and more. We are all affected, especially the poor. Together we are strong. Do not let fear distract you. There is a strong good energy out there. Let’s join it and make it even stronger.”

On Thursday I received a Facebook message from a friend of mine, Susie, stating where she and her husband, Charles, would be protesting. That was great, I decided, B and I would join them. I love my friend, B. She is English but has South African residency and spends seven months of the year in South Africa. There was never a question of her not taking part in the protest. B was worried that on that Friday, the roads would be congested with traffic and people.
“If necessary we can simply park the car and walk. Let’s take the car and give it a try,” I said.
She picked me up at 7.45 in the morning and we set off on our anti-Zuma date!

Surprisingly there was the usual early morning traffic, nothing out of the ordinary. We parked our car right at our designated spot, got out and looked around in surprise. There was no one there. Then a car door opened and a woman got out.
“Hello, are you waiting for Susie and Charles?”
“Yes,” I said in a relieved rush. “Are we the only ones here?”
“I’m also one of Susie and Charles’ friends,” said a voice behind me. I turned to see this petite woman smiling and holding out her hand, “I’m Nancy!”
We all introduced ourselves.
“Well…at least we are in the right place,” I said, thinking, ‘Please, Lord, let there be more people than just the four of us. The next moment there was a shout. Faces glowing with smiles and laden with banners, Susie and Charles were striding towards us. There was obviously something magical about them because their arrival heralded the appearance of a whole lot of other people. A group of young, bright faced coloureds joined us with wonderful banners. I was so relieved that we weren’t going to be this all white group of protesters! We were a mixed bunch of about twenty. Coloured, whites, old and young. I didn’t have a poster but I had my voice. All my theatre training came into play as I shouted out: “Zuma must fall. Let’s get rid of this tyrant. Down with Zuma!!!”
Cars driving past would give a little hoot of affirmation as they continued on their way. It would be great if instead of the hoots, they were actually protesting with us, I thought.

We went off to pilates with a sprightliness to our steps knowing that we would join the main protest at 11.00. It was then that we would all join hands and form a chain for as far as the eye can see, and sing the National Anthem!

We had to laugh when one of our friends arrived with a protest banner. This was not protesting the antics of Zuma but rather that of our pilates class: Chest lifts must fall! No more 100’s!!!
When we left pilates, I was amazed at my friends response: “Good luck with your protest. I hope it all goes well.”
For goodness sakes, this was not ‘my’ protest. I was protesting on behalf of all South Africans. I have great friends but why were they not joining B and I and massing on the green at 11? They had no work commitments. I left there bewildered and slightly disappointed.

We arrived to find a crowd gathering on the green, obviously awaiting 11 o’clock. We stopped in at Beans About Coffee for a take away of deliciousness. Then made our way onto the green expanse. There was a man speaking. B and I being deaf couldn’t hear him but suddenly everyone began singing the National Anthem. I looked at my watch. It said five minutes to eleven. They had started early! Glory, where were they up to? I sang a few lines in my out of key voice. That didn’t matter. I was singing for my land, South Africa. It ended and everyone applauded. And then the assemblage broke up and people began to disperse.
“Is that it? Aren’t we going to link arms and form a line?”
“I don’t actually think there are enough people to form a very long line,” said B in a subdued tone.
The George anti-Zuma protest was over.

We crossed the road and walked back to our car past a teeming Beans About Coffee. People were sitting chatting and laughing together. These people had watched us all protesting as they took another bite of their scrumptious carrot cake. I didn’t know which I wanted to do most: Burst into tears or else stand there and shout at them. People are always incredibly vocal when it came to criticising the government. Where was their vocalisation and making a stand when it was needed? Their vocal chords were being stuffed to quietness by mounds of cheesecake and cups of coffee.

Peter Veysie, our pastor, had recently spoken to us all about not being frightened to stand up for what we believed in. To stand firm and strong. I am afraid that I saw very little of that belief being demonstrated on Friday 7th in George. Where were all my fellow congregation members? People might have believed that Zuma must go, but did they do anything about it? Far easier to give a little affirmative hoot as they went about their daily business. Apathy, how I hate apathy! On Friday, 7th April, I encountered it in George in all it’s stark, blatant form.

George might have been ‘dead’ as far as protesting went but you can imagine my reaction when I saw that in Cape Town, there was the biggest march since the dawn of democracy. I then read the following post from a friend of mine, Peter Terry:

The protest march in Pretoria on Friday 7 April, was a huge mix of black and white, rich and poor. There were about 25,000 of us. The spirit of unity and goodwill was overwhelming! I find it thoroughly annoying that the so-called progressive left found it necessary to try to ridicule the white marchers as merely middle class and self-interested beneficiaries of white privilege. In this particular episode of the soap opera called South Africa, everyone was united on one issue – the rape of our country by Zuma and his fatcat cronies.

Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban was where it mattered!
I pray that Zuma went to bed a worried man!

I thought of my beautiful mountainous town of George and I wanted to weep.

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
                                                                                                                                        Albert Einstein