Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: Mandela

221 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 4 5 6 7 8 9 Newer→ Last

  • Kracklite,

    I remember strongly that my dad, who had been in the Kiwis (League, not Union) and toured Aussie, France and Britain in the late 40s and wary 50s finally came to oppose the tour because in his words, it was "tearing the country apart" (not "the protestors"). National unity mattered more to him than rugby, which had been his pride and passion. If he was able to think about it with that depth, then others can too.

    Key's evasions and various slimeballs' attempts to rewrite history to gratify themselves don't deserve ridicule, they deserve public contempt. I'll respect anyone who says "I was wrong, now I know better". Ross Meurant has been on that journey, to his credit.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kracklite,

    I remember strongly that my dad, who had been in the Kiwis (League, not Union) and toured Aussie, France and Britain in the late 40s and wary 50s finally came to oppose the tour because in his words, it was “tearing the country apart” (not “the protestors”). National unity mattered more to him than rugby, which had been his pride and passion. If he was able to think about it with that depth, then others can too.

    My father, a naturally conservative man, had come to the same conclusion some time before the Springboks arrived. The neighbours, big in the local rugby club, went the other way. It was unnerving hearing them declare the anti-Tour Christchurch Star a "communist newspaper".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I like this piece from the Guardian about how Mandela would have laughed at the rightwing fawning over him.

    Regarding children and memories, I took my 4 month old on the marches, until it got too dangerous after the police baton charge at Molesworth Street. She studied the tour at secondary school as something historical and about other people. But it was attending the 30 year anniversary event in Wellington, and hearing the stories of bravery, courage and superb organisation, that made her proud of her and her family’s contribution.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    She studied the tour at secondary school as something historical and about other people.

    We studied South Africa as part of the secondary school History syllabus. I've long thought that was a really good thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • martinb,

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Mark Steel is a welcome discovery.

    Geoff, you might also like the other Mark - Mark Thomas (they're sometimes known as 'the two Marks' over here in the UK. Because how else would you refer to two generally leftish comedians with the same first name?).

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to martinb,

    Claims of Thatcher’s anti-apartheid stance made in the telegraph here:

    And a generally respectful but rather less hagiographic account here.
    Interesting that Thatcher was very much taken in by that smarmy old fraud Laurens van der Post. So was I, once upon a time.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sacha,

    It’s us the guy is lying to

    I defer to your superior mind-reading skills but, for the last time ever (promise) there's a time and place. Being a dick over someone else's funeral is something I lost my appetite for the day I was told I wasn't welcome at my grandmother's unless I came alone.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I have been a little nonplussed by the scramble to own Mandela’s memory

    I've been refraining from posting because my own memories seeem rather banal, but on reflection, I think illustrate a point worth making.

    I was at school through the last years of apartheid, and also the cold war. They were both just something that happened in the background, for the most part. I have flashes of memories from the tv news of the time, my parents sitting impassively in front of the telly as I walked in and out of the room. I have one particularly vivid memory of footage of SA police ambushing protestors in a township and firing indiscriminantly into the crowd with shotguns.

    Despite my best efforts (and those of my immediate and wider environments - conservative school and Conservative governments), the sense of 'something wrong' did manage to eventually make it's way through my thick teenage skull, and it did so in no small part thanks to sustained campaigning from 'the left': embassy protests, continuing news coverage, and in my case, comedy.

    Spitting Image was huge in the UK, and wildly popular in our school. I didn't understand half of it - the politicians names meant nothing to me, but it was compelling nevertheless. The Specials AKA was a tune I was aware of, but it was neither here nor there for me at the time. But this one was:

    Spitting Image also had a number-one single with their novelty single 'the chicken song' (because the '80's), which had a b-side that was far more popular at our school:

    All this helped sow the seeds for some sort of political awareness, outside of the establishment of mainstream news and stage-managed politicians. Just having the sense that there were other groups, people who thought differently and had a different point of view, and that they weren't fringe weirdos, was hugely important to me (even if I didn't realise it at the time). So, um, thanks for that Mandela, and the SA government for turning him into a cause celebre.

    I also remember when he was released because it seemed to come as part of a chain of toppling dominoes at the end of the '80's and beginning of the '90's - the wall coming down, Glasnost and the end of the cold war, and Mandela's release. My memory is that there was a sense of a tide turning, huge optimism globally, 'the end of history' and all of that.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    grown-ups who should know better intoning about how those kids couldn’t just assume they’d have been anti-Tour if they’d been around at the time. Sheesh.

    I think this is a really good and important point. The number of people who look back at history, and think they'd have resisted some oppression vs the numbers at the time who actually resisted it are almost invariably different.

    One thing I took from watching Roots a year or so ago was to look at slavery as something that is so obviously wrong, but that lots of people supported, or didn't greatly oppose. How can something so awful have seemed so normal to so many? But it did. It also made me ask: well, if I'd lived in the United States in the early-mid 19th century, would I have opposed slavery? Obviously, I think I would, but can never really know; would I have been an active abolitionist? Much more doubtful. I'd like to think so, of course, but there's still slavery now, and the most I've ever done about it is write "there's still slavery now, and the most I've every done about it is write..."

    We look on slavery and apartheid and other horrors, with horror. But we do it today because we grow up in a world where those things are accepted as such. Injustice hasn't ended. Injustice that is accepted as just fine by a lot of people hasn't ended, What is it that we accept today that people in 50 or 100 years will look upon with horror? Will the people too young to remember it just assume that they would have been opposed?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • martinb,

    I think that is why we owe such a debt to those who say the emperor has no clothes.

    Will it be our grandchildren looking at us over climate change the way we look at slavery? Or something else? Not being careful with our antibiotics?

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    An appropriate way to celebrate New Zealand's connection with Mandela: a candlelight ceremony at Rugby Park in Hamilton on Sunday night, with John Minto in attendance.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2537 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    I wonder why there has been little mention of Trevor Richards and important role of HART.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2537 posts Report Reply

  • Alec Morgan, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Peruse “Dancing on our Bones” by Trevor Richards and you will get an idea. HART had a London office at one stage and Trevor became a virtual diplomat flying around Africa for several years to this conference and that. The book is Wellington centric in regards 1981, though an excellent history of Apartheid sport from the beginning, and only lightly touches on the mass actions in Auckland led by Auckland HART under the guise of umbrella group MOST–Mobilisation to Stop the Tour.

    He seemed to later prefer the backroom while Hone and Minto kept to the loudhailer and police lines, maybe just a case of visibility. But, the wonderful diversity of the anti racist movement (e.g. Artists Against Apartheid) also held some significant political differences along organisational and tactical lines.

    Tokerau Beach • Since Nov 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Graeme Edgeler,

    I think this is a really good and important point. The number of people who look back at history, and think they’d have resisted some oppression vs the numbers at the time who actually resisted it are almost invariably different.

    It's clearer, and less theoretical than that. The demarcations in the New Zealand public were stark. Jock Phillips summed up the conflict as one between "old and new New Zealand". Specifically:

    • the struggle between baby boomers and war veterans
    • city versus country
    • men versus women
    • black versus white
    • ‘Britain of the south’ versus independent Pacific nation.

    "City versus country" had a particular importance in political terms. Muldoon exploited the distortions of FPP to "win" the election with fewer votes than Labour. (We often forget that the Kirk government did block a Springbok tour in 1973, after being presciently advised by the police that such a tour would "engender the greatest eruption of violence this country has ever known".)

    If you were a young urban liberal -- ie, the kind of person I saw being schooled on Twitter this week -- in 1981, you'd have been against the Tour. If you were a Young Nat, perhaps not. Kevin Hague led protests as a university student, Michael Laws campaigned in favour of the Tour as a university student. You were in one tribe or another.

    There was also a fairly large group -- people like my father -- who were led to quietly oppose the Tour by their own conservatism. They could see how disruptive and divisive it would be.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    We often forget that the Kirk government did block a Springbok tour in 1973, after being presciently advised by the police that such a tour would “engender the greatest eruption of violence this country has ever known”.

    No doubt the NZ police prescience was informed by the events surrounding the 1971 Springbok tour of Australia. While rugby union didn’t excite the Australian public to anything like the same degree that it did in NZ, the 1971 tour saw 5000 protesters in the streets of Melbourne, a gigantic effigy hung from the Sydney Harbour bridge, and Bjelke-Petersen’s infamous month-long state of emergency in Queensland. The anti-apartheid movement claimed a strategic victory when the upcoming tour of the South African cricket team was cancelled.

    While the events of 1971 provided an eerie foretaste of what was to come a decade later in NZ, Bjelke-Petersen’s deliberate manipulation of social discord for electoral advantage more than probably inspired Muldoon. As the former Whitlam cabinet Minister Jim Cairns noted when comparing Muldoon and Bjelke-Peterson during a 1976 visit to NZ, there seemed to be an unhealthy interest in such people in this part of the world.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You were in one tribe or another.

    Yup, it felt that way as a child, too. Mind you, I was in Ponsonby. Maybe it was different elsewhere.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    On Twitter, I’ve been debating the point with Graeme that rugby and the 1981 tour need to be seen in a different context than any other element of the various international sporting boycotts imposed on South Africa.

    Race and South African rugby first became a controversial issue in New Zealand in 1921.

    And the “No Maoris, No Tour” protest of 1960 predates all the international boycotts.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    She studied the tour at secondary school as something historical and about other people.

    Coming back to NZ after 20 years and having my teenage son studying the tour was a bit disconcerting - I got to talk about my part and .... "um, I don't think you can put that bit I told you, I don't think NZ has a statute of limitations ...", and ... "I think you should ask X (a teacher at his school) directly and confirm what I remembered and see if they want that on paper" ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2605 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    I wonder why there has been little mention of Trevor Richards and important role of HART.

    I was on the HART national council just after the tour (a lot of the old guard burned out and understandably wanted to get on with their lives). It was always a very political animal with a clear ongoing policy split between Auckland and Wellington.

    There were other (older, initially less radical) anti-apartheid organisations than HART - Trevor started one (COST?) - some had been around since the 60s/70s

    HART was a large relatively decentralised organisation with local groups organising in every town - it was how we mobilised all those people without an internet (and with the cops infiltrating our meetings) - remember we held marches and signed people up for months before the tour started - all those people in the streets, we all were HART.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2605 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Russell Brown,

    predates all the international boycotts.

    Even earlier:

    In Cape Town we hadd a company of Maori troops. Some of them went together on a tram and were ordered off, as coloured people were not allowed to ride in the streetcars. This made the New Zealand soldiers angry. We were not "political", just ordinary healthy lads and it was unthinkable to us that our friends should be publically shamed because the sun had tanned their skins a richer brown than ours. So many of us went together up the main street of Cape Town and tipped all the trams over. That was quite a to do. My arm was in a sling, so I could not take part except to watch. The fire brigade was brought out to hose water on the soldiers and drive them back to the ship. The soldiers responded by throwing oranges from the stalls on the side of the street, which were piled with them. Anyway, our ship was then taken out into the harbour and anchored for quite a while and we were allowed no more shore leave. That was my first experience of racism in action.

    Rewi Alley, An Autobiography, pages 16-17 in this particular edition published by the Foreign Languages Press in 2003 in Beijing, although it was first published by New World Press in Beijing in 1987. He doesn't give a date for this incident, but it would seem to be some time in 1917, as it happened when he was being shipped off to the First World War.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    There were other (older, initially less radical) anti-apartheid organisations than HART – Trevor started one (COST?)

    CARE, or Campaign for Racial Equality.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Rewi Alley, An Autobiography . . . He doesn’t give a date for this incident, but it would seem to be some time in 1917, as it happened when he was being shipped off to the First World War.

    Great story Chris. Over 60 years later Hiwi Tauroa reported on his return from his 21-day visit to South Africa "If you're a black, you're subject to all of the laws of the country, but protected by none."

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Obviously I have no idea if I'd have been against apartheid in as much as the question makes no sense, but I do know that the political and social movements that I am a fan of managed to absolutely nail the whole "is a racist police state wrong" issue back in the day, and contrarily a bunch of political and social movements I am not a huge fan of managed to come to an answer that was very clearly wrong even at the time.

    Solidarity doesn't just go across space, it also goes between times, and I think it's perfectly possible to remember the struggles of the past and feel a sense of solidarity with the people who fought against apartheid even if you weren't born then.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    yes, I'm pretty sure COST was from Wellington too though, CARE was much older (it's all getting hazy) Trevor was certainly a pioneer in there before almost anyone else

    There was however a very Wellington/Auckland thing going on (later on it also became an ANC vs. PAC thing with one group supporting one and one the other) - probably also caused by the various left factions that were locally ascendant at the time.

    During the tour though there was just lots of stuff to do, some of it terribly scary.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2605 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 4 5 6 7 8 9 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

This topic is closed.