Memoirs of Life in South Africa

English 162: Literature and Place (A Queens College Study Abroad Course)

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Blog #6

January 10th, 2012 by mikestrianese · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Choose a post from “Writing Africa” and use it to teach the rest of us something new about South Africa. Be sure to include a link to the post and a couple of quotations from it.

Friday, April 15, 2011: Meet Andries. He Died Yesterday. (

Andries Tatane was a 33 year old mathematics teacher from Meqheleng, a township rid with poverty near the town of Ficksburg.  Andries was murdered by the riot police, beaten by multiple officers with batons and then shot, at a riot where Meqheleng residents were protesting for “electricity and proper water supply, for toilets, for repairs to drains as well as waste removal. Residents of Meqheleng have to walk for up to 10km to fetch water.”  It is heart wrenching to hear that some people, 18 years after Apartheid’s end (almost two decades!) still do not have the basic luxuries (against their will) nearly all Americans take for granted.  Americans take multiple showers a day, and feel they have a right to, which when juxtaposed with the lives of those from Meqheleng should evoke feelings in us that it most likely does not.  Attention was drawn to Tatane when he begged riot police for mercy after their savage beatings of elder protesters.  Tatane was an activist who would have most likely made a positive difference in his community, but will now not have the chance.  What can be learned about South Africa from this event is that despite Apartheid’s laws being purged, it has left an imprint that has not yet washed away.  The lens cap of Apartheid may have been removed from Africa’s camera, but in the process of doing so it left a scratch that will continue to cloud up what could have been a beautiful picture.  Though Apartheid is no longer enacted, its horrible practices still resonate in Africa today.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • mikestrianese

    That’s a great point, Merzela. Tatane certainly made a difference the moment he stood up to the police force on site. Also, people like Tatane are a special breed, and I feel as if it is a safe assumption to say that he has made many differences before. I’d like to correct what I said by saying, Tatane was an activist whose contributions, as well as his life, has been cut short by a brutal hand.

  • Merzela

    I agree that apartheid still impacts South Africa greatly. However, I believe that Tatane was a brave activist who DID make a positive difference in his community. Even though the police used brutal force against Tatane and the protesters, Tatane left a powerful message to his people and the outside world. By demanding and standing up for what was rightly his and the communities’, he showed people that they could do something about their conditions. He empowered them through his activism

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