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MISSING STATUES

EPISODE 2 : STATUES  

Continued from Episode One

Many see identity as having much to do with heritage. Where you come from determines your allegiance and your tribe, yes? 

No. I’m a white geezer living in JHB who has watched empire decimate my own country, and over the longest time in my life I have watched illegal wars being waged on democracies and liberation movements all over the world by the people who first waged them here. 

The thing I like to give my ancestors credit for was being Scottish instead of English and leaving Scotland. And that’s basically it.

However, when I was growing up, my mum used to talk about watching cowboys and red indians when she was a kid. My grandpa used to take her with to the movies in De Arr and give her sweets so she’d chill while he watched John Wayne. When I was a kid, guess who the bad guys were? Guess how many times my younger sister was a cowboy and I was a red indian? Guess how many John Wayne DVDs my mum has at home? 

When you are taught to think a certain way, or your information stream is coming at you in one direction, it’s hard when you come off the binge, and it’s a heavy hangover. 

My version of the US and UK was a jingoistic one as a child, driven by the narrative which was, at that point, still all prevailing – the one of them being saviours of the world, They Who Had Ended Hitler (Russia had already been blanked out of that history). Americans were GIs with a hand grenade pin in their teeth, tommy gun on one hip and a wounded comrade on the other, spitting lead at the Jerrys. 

I had no idea the year I was born America was trying to pull itself out of Vietnam after being sucked into guerilla war the likes of which it had never seen. I had not an inkling that the United States had vetoed many resolutions against the Apartheid government at the United Nations and that it had bankrolled the National Party war machine in Angola and South West Africa (Namibia).

What miniscule perception I had of America and the UK came out of WAR Picture Library and whatever NME or Top40 magazine I could lay my hands on. But I learnt, because I just happened to end up with a history teacher that had a social conscience. I got lucky.

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