Friday, July 22, 2011

tour lessons for today

One of the most influencial people in my life was a man called Steve Biko. I found this book when I was young and it affected me greatly. Then along came the tour and I carried a handmade sign saying, 'Remember Steve Biko' throughout all my protest marches.

I have added some different thoughts to this original post which was discussing employing iwi members - still a subject dear to my heart :) But I wanted to talk about Steve Biko again and the Tour because it happened 30 years ago today and it changed my life.

I marched in Dunedin and Wellington, I stormed the Southern Cross and ran up and down stairs all over Wellington, I wore my HART badge to the rugby club and graffitied local walls. I argued with friends and family and never really enjoyed or watched rugby again. I believed in the cause - equality, and I was connected to many who believed the same. 

I believed in the words Steve Biko wrote.
This is a quote from a paragragh of an article Steve Biko wrote in 1970
"Does this mean I am against intergration? If by integration you understand a breakthrough into white society by blacks, an assimilation and acceptance of blacks into an already established set of norms and code of behaviour set up and maintained by whites, then YES I am against it. I am against the superior-inferior white-black stratification that makes the white a perpetual teacher and the black a perpetual pupil (and a poor one at that). I am against the intellectual arrogance of white people that makes them believe that white leadership is a sine qua non in this country and that whites are the divinely appointed pace-setters in progress. I am against the fact that a settler minority should impose an entire system of values on an indigenous people".
That was written in a different time, place and context I agree, but once you get over the fact that we are not black south africans, and allow your mind to slide over the black/white terminology, the message still resonates.
Steve Biko died on the floor of a empty Pretoria Central Prison cell on 12 September 1977, aged 30 - murdered.
A lot has been written about the Tour from the angle that it fractionated us and created division. At one level that is true but at another - as we marched arm in arm down the street shouting our slogans and believing in our cause we were exhilarated and connected - there was no division - there was intent and belief and concentration and conviction on our goals. Once you have experienced that mixture of emotions it is hard to forget. It doesn't happen that often in a lifetime - and it is happening again now and we can once again join arms to continue the stuggle for equality - it is called The Mana Party.

The Tour taught us that we can speak up against injustice, we can make a difference. People power works - we only need look around the world to see people power in action today. During the Tour we put away our supposed differences to work cooperatively. The cause didn't differenciate on ethnic or colour lines, age, genger or sexuality, class or political persuasion - all worked towards the goal of equality because that goal was in alignment with our values - nothing has changed and everything has changed. The cause is the same but the vehicle to effect change is different.

I call on all those who marched and opposed the Springbok Tour to consider that cause and the challenges we face today. Which political party today, aligns with our marching and protesting back then. I know what john Minto and Hone think - it is the Mana Party. I agree with them - what about you? It's time to stand up again and put energy into our core beliefs and values. The exhilaration and connection we experience occur because we are in alignment with our values.

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