myDigitalLife Blogs

Blogs about Digital, Lifestyle, current news and opinions
Tags >> Mandela
May 26

Die Suidlanders: It's the 1980's all over again

Posted by ShackledMuse in uhuru , suidlanders , special assignment , south africa , right wing , racism , night of the long knives , Mandela , malema , Eugene Tereblanche , AWB , apartheid


I don't usually watch Special Assignment, but the ads got my attention. A documentary about the Suidlanders, a right wing religious group of Afrikaners. I thought, Hey, I've just written a nice heartfelt blog about why I love South Africa and why I dislike the not-so-proudly South Africans, so why not watch Special Assignment and let my blood pressure rise a little? Nothing like some good old fashioned Afrikaner racists to push my temper levels to the limit.

Feb 10

Where I was 20 years ago

Posted by Dissol in Mandela , Germany , Digital , 1990


Following up from Paralyzer's excellent post; regarding where he was 20 years ago.  Yes, this is a digital post...I'll explain.

I was in a small village outside of Dresden, in the former East Germany.  I had been travelling to East Germany, Hungary and other Eastern Bloc countries for around 2 years.  The Berlin Wall had fallen the previous year, but official reunification of Germany would not happen until the October.

Communication into that region were appalling; they were relying upon the exiting East German (Russian) phone network, which understandably did not have connections to the West.

I had left Berlin a few days before, loaded up with newspapers, and was tracking the news from South Africa as well as I could.  About 2 days before I had been in Dresden, using the telex machine (anyone else remember those??), of a friendly haulage company, to get messages from my wife, who was at home in England with a tiny baby (my 1st son was 2 months old), and I was still coming to terms with being a father.  We had several South African friends (living in exile in the UK), and I was trying to follow the news as well as I could...

Then on 10th February, I was woken by someone banging on my door (I stayed in a castle...actually the former hunting castle to Frederick the Great...), and it was a person from the haulage company, with an URGENT telex for me.  He had driven through the snow in his Trabant, to deliver the slip of paper.  I wish I had kept that piece of paper.  There was the usual nonsense before hand, and afterwards, but the actual message was somehting like:
...manela due to be released 10/02 <STOP> on all TV channels here <STOP> house full of excited people <STOP> baby not sleeping through night, wifee xxx <END MESSAGE>.

I did not want to miss out, but it was impossible to get any decent TV there (the East German TV was still run by the communists).  So I decided that I needed to get to a TV quickly...and I drove like an idiot from Dresden to Berlin flat out in the snow (in my old G Wagon).  When I arrived there I checked into a hotel, and rushed to my room to find that there was some confusion...  The South Africa government was saying one thing...but other sources were saying another...but either way it was going to happen soon...

As I remember I stayed up all night.  I could phone home at least from the hotel, but generally it was a horrible connection and horribly expensive...  I think wifee was a bit put out that I was more worried about an old man in South Africa, rather than the very young man in the cot at home...

Eventually, I got those pictures the next day...those evocative photos of Nelson & Winnie Mandela walking out hand-in-hand from Victor Verster prison...(little did I know then, that one day I would live very close to that famous landmark, and I drive past that entrance at least once a month...there is a statue there now...but I can still visualise the TV, and newspaper coverage...  It was apt that I was in Berlin I felt.  Just a few months before, the world has witnessed the 'impossible' - the fall of the Berlin wall...and even though it was early days, and there were some sinister undercurrents (as the Stasi tried to regain control).  Now, the world's attention was on a prison outside of Paarl, South Africa.

After spending another fortune on the phone chatting to wifee...I decided that I should celebrate, and made my way down to the bar...  Everyone was talking about it...there was quite an international crowd passing through Berlin in those days, and opinion was divided; but the majority view was that, notwithstanding the release of Mandela, Africa was about to experience yet another bout of one, not even Mandela would be able to avoid that.  But we celebrated another 'impossible' event; not many of us had really expected to see Mandela walk out a free man...  We could all remember September 77 when another icon was snuffed out...

What did this new World Order mean??  Concrete things of my childhood were being broken down...the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, Mandela released.  People were expecting civil war in Germany (and it nearly happened...), people were expecting civil war in South Africa (and it nearly happened!).

But the digital age should mean that people cannot take backward steps anymore.  With a few notable exceptions, modern communications means that one can get, and spread the news immediately, from anywhwere in the world...  No driving for hours to get to a TV...  No telex messages...  How quickly we became used to a united Germany...a free South Africa...and email, Web, cell phones...

What had the biggest effect???  Not may be the Internet...but that would be churlish to suggest on the 20th Anniversary...  Each was big in its own right...  Each was ground breaking...  After each event, the world would never be the same again...

Viva, Viva...  indeed...

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