Poem: Freedom's Lament

By Seth Naicker 2-20-2009

Freedom is on my mind. In the case of South Africa, political freedom was achieved almost 15 years ago. It was a freedom from the heresy of Apartheid. A decade and half has come and gone, and for many South Africans "freedom" is still a hope and dream for tomorrow. For while political freedom we as a South African nation can claim, economic freedom is still a dream to gain.

South Africa together with the world on the 27th of April 1994, witnessed a democratic vote that brought the installation of a people's government and inauguration of President Nelson Mandela. The African National Congress as the ruling political party together with a government of national unity was contracted by the people of South Africa to deliver a future of equality and freedom for all people of our land.

Today, 15 years later, many people in South Africa are restless and discouraged by the workings of a political system within a post-Apartheid era that has not delivered the people's contract. The African National Congress, the party I call my political home, has taken enormous critique for promising a freedom 15 years ago that has only materialized in middle- to upper-class silos. For it is, in the terminology of Howard Thurman, "the people with their backs against the wall" who have borne the burdens of unrealized promises.

Like the U.S., South Africa has "been-there-done-that-and-got-the-t-shirt," seeing the first black president of the land. In reflecting on South Africa's journey, pursuit of authentic change must go beyond the window dressing of race or ethnicity, not to disregard the social construct and reality, and importance of such symbolic moments, but to press on to the core ideals of systems that must change for a more perfected freedom to be engaged.

Freedom's lament

A lyrical line "Freedom is coming tomorrow" fills my minds arena

from a song on the soundtrack of a movie called Sarafina
Depicting a freedom that would come to the people
of South Africa, but tomorrow!

Freedom will come tomorrow
Freedom from the sorrow
The sorrow of living in the margins
A painful, petrifying, pressurized
Purposeless and subhuman existence

The tomorrow for South Africa came
Not in the expected tomorrow time frame
But 48 years of a system of Apartheid had to be endured
Until the Mother of all tomorrows came to be secured!

It came not once or twice, but thrice in my account!
Nelson Mandela's release in February 11th, 1990, once!
First democratic election April 27th, 1994, twice!
The inauguration of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela May 10th, 1994, thrice!
Because Freedom: you are once, twice , three times a lady!
And I always love you!

Freedom though has somehow only been realized
as a romanticized figment of one's imagination
For the Freedom that tomorrow brought in the South African situation
not once or twice, but thrice was found to be flawed!
As a Freedom that came in the morrow
Which stopped short of economic freedom
Only to promise the relief from political sorrow

Now from South Africa to the rest of the world
What is freedom from the sorrow?
The sorrow of injustice, oppression, and prejudice
Concerning religion race/ethnicity,
class, gender/sexual oriented plurality
What is freedom from the sorrow?
When I can say that I am free
Only to beg-steal or borrow

Freedom Freedom Freedom Freedom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Is coming tomorrow
Not a freedom of hypocrisy
Not at all!
It is a freedom that is driven by those
who know the pain of living with their back against the wall
those who have a mind and an understanding of solidarity to call
Call for justice and equality
Call for Freedom and a respect of all
Creation and people's humanity

Freedom Freedom Freedom Freedom
Is coming tomorrow
It is all of our work to work for Freedom
In its complexity
Working for Freedom in the morrow
That will be political, economic
And utterly and totally holistic!

portrait-seth-naickerSeth Naicker (seth-naicker@bethel.edu or smnaick@hotmail.com) is an activist, advocate, speaker, writer, contributor, artist, trainer, and consultant for inclusivity and diversity, justice and reconciliation.

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