It has been a while since my last post, as I have been doing linguistic research, but recent South African police violence has inspired me to leave my books and write a bit.
What happened was apparently 8 South African police officers cuffed a man (a Mozambican taxi driver) to their car and dragged him through a busy street, causing extensive injuries, which the man then died from. The ordeal was caught on film, and there were many witnesses, so now there is a bit of a public outcry; the President has even condemned the act and called it “disturbing“. Anyone who knows the past in this country can surely see the congruences with the old Apartheid regime’s tactics and their treatment of civilians. This is noteworthy, because the last time these images were resurrected was at the Marikana Platinum mine massacre of 2012.
The “Marikana Massacre”, as it was labeled, faded from public discourse incredibly fast, and as far as I know, nobody has been held responsible as of yet. The eight men accused here will probably not find the same fortune, I believe, as they were on regular cop duty, not protecting the interests of a British mining company. I say this because their actions have earned them a place in public discourse, which will over time naturally decide on their guilt. The other interested parties, such as the SAPF or the SA government, have only so much (and this is not very much) influence on this discourse. This situation can then be compared with the Marikana Massacre one, where very well connected parties, such as the Lonmin mining company (and all other international companies that own mines in Africa who could by affected by a change in the status quo), with ties to multinational media outlets, can actively force this sort of dialogue out of international discourse, blur opinion on the matter, or create an illusion of debate.
From a linguistic standpoint, I would say that this problem could find the beginnings of a solution in changing the South African school syllabus to included things like Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, to teach our youth about the danger to us all that is involved in treating people like this, instead of focusing on stories of Shakespearean castles which are so far out of context, and presented in such an inaccessible language for second and third language speakers, that they are barely imaginable.