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Nthikeng Mohlele

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Nthikeng Mohlele Latest

A Vacuous Tomorrow

Stun grenades. Riot police gear. Arrests. Memoranda of demands and of response – students to Vice Chancellors and vice versa. Irritations with historically undesirable symbols, in physical and ideological terms – even in the realm of the spiritual. Daring images rendered in freeze frame and moving pictures on social media: heightened voices, boiling emotions, stern finger pointing. Two hundred plus dead miners – dead for demanding a living wage. Scars: on families, on the national consciousness.

Freedom is found wanting, to be an empty basket, sailing covered in algae, with no Moses to be given to Pharaoh. Who then shall part the Red Sea of our future – to avoid at all costs, a vacuous tomorrow? Vacuous. Hazy. Dispiriting. It is one thing to set laws, to govern institutions, to set and pursue ideals. But how does one govern perturbed souls, a groundswell of impatience with the promises of tomorrow? How do Governors of the now reconcile the solid foundations of democracy with the treachery of building a nation through turbulent winds of an aversion to the perpetuation of dispossession and suffering? Dangerous things, words – prophetic, in the most unexpected of ways: “The people shall govern.” Four words, whose true meaning and ramifications have far surpassed the attainment of elementary freedoms (assumed and understood to be God given) – to more unforgiving avenues of freedom of the higher planes, freedom written in block letters: FREEDOM. This is an arrogant kind of freedom: grounded. Impatient. Demanding. It pays no heed to assurances and platitudes, scorns promises without the immediacy of sustainable and righteous action. It is temperamental, this new wave of freedom, suspicious, easily angered, all too knowing and showy of its price tag. I am expensive – it says, because I have the scars from decades of whip lashes. These, these, these scars on my black back and some white backs there, are the merciless stings of the lash.

This Verwoerdian lash is of ignorance imposed on me against my will, regardless of my God given abilities and personal drive.

These eight, deep lashes, are for generations of poor and despondent people who silently wished they were never born.

This three here, right across my buttocks, are prejudice lashes – lashes engraved on my body as an insults and reminders that I couldn’t think, dream, innovate, feel, lead, achieve, be rewarded, celebrated, and bearer of flags of my Republic.

This one here, that gauged my right eyeball, failed to blind me to the deception of tyranny, even of the subtlest hue. My back is ruined, yes, my skin broken and unsightly. A slave’s back. A back that tells a story, of patience and understanding stretched to breaking point. I am owed a meaningful future – resourceful and dignified – but forget that whip. It won’t work this time. I have been whipped simply for breathing before. Wrong things must fall. Welcome to the War of Conscience.


A Broke and Conscious Youth Who Cannot Afford Not To Be Educated.

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