Tour of a Township

reading

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Reading about other non-violent protests in history

Humanity sometimes does cruel things to itself. Apartheid is no exception. For anyone who doesn’t know what Apartheid was, it was basically an oppressive system to divide the races in South Africa. The hierarchical structure goes like this: whites at the top, then Indians, then coloreds (a mix of races), and, at the bottom, the blacks, who, ironically, happened to be the natives, the people that were there first. Yes, it was a very racist society. All races, excluding whites, had their own, separate townships outside of cities. These townships were not their homes. These were designated neighborhoods, the only places they were allowed to live. However, different races in the hierarchical structures had different townships, and the states of them were different, too. The Indian township didn’t look so bad, but the black township just across the road was looking pretty bad. Of course, this was the state of things during Apartheid, and many things have gotten better since the end of Apartheid.

quoteWe already knew that Gandhi had started his work in South Africa, after an incident on a train. He had bought a first-class ticket, and sat down in the first-class car. However, the first-class car was reserved for whites. Then again, Gandhi had bought a first-class ticket! He refused to move, so he was beaten and kicked off the train in Pietermaritzburg.

You would never expect Gandhi to be prejudiced, right? However, we learned one thing that shocked us about Gandhi: he was racist, but only in the beginning. It completely blew my mind. How could he? Well, he couldn’t for long. Being the target of racism, he lost his own racism, which was kind of necessary if he was going to unify all of India against the Empire of Great Britain!

I also read about protests around the world. The one I remember best was in the Prague Spring, when a lot of people sat on Wenceslas Square in what was then Czechoslovakia, in protest of the Soviets taking over their country. Unfortunately, this protest did not work. However, many protests did work. For example, Gandhi’s salt march in India. That, along with dozens of other protests, ended up in the British leaving India!

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Dube and family gravesite

One of the key founders of the civil rights movement was Reverend John Langalibalele Dube, the founder and first president of the ANC. Originally, it was called the SANNC, or South African Native National Congress. However, no matter the name, the ANC’s goal was always to get rights for non-whites. He also founded the Ohlange Institute, a high school that taught not only academic skills, but also vocational skills. He got the idea for it from the Union Missionary Seminary in Brooklyn.  John Dube was the first black man to ever found such an institute in South Africa

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Where Mandela ave his first vote.

At first, the institute was so popular, that there were too many students to buy beds for all of them! It would later become one of the most important places in all of South African history. The reason? Here, decades later, Nelson Mandela cast his historic vote.

Well, we learned that times can be tough, but humanity is like a phoenix, rising up… from its own ashes.

Gandhi the Great

James

Gandhi was a fascinating character in world history that used non-violence to give his country, India, independence from the British Empire. His struggles started in South Africa, in 1893. This happened when he was seated in the first class section of a train. The conductor ordered him to move to the third class section, because he wasn’t white. Gandhi refused, because he had bought a first class ticket. At the next stop, Gandhi was kicked off the train. Later, Gandhi led a protest to burn the Indian’s identity passes. His rich Muslim trader friend was sent to prison, and Gandhi was beaten. In a march in South Africa, Gandhi was met by men on horses. Gandhi told his marchers to lie down. The men tried to make their horses step on the marchers, but the horses wouldn’t do it. Gandhi did a lot of work in India, too. One of his biggest marches was the march to the sea to make salt, which the British had a monopoly on. Then he had some men try to take a salt mill. Police stood in front of the gate. The marchers came up to the police in rows. When the marchers came up to the police, the police caned them, some more than others. Then their wives or mothers carried them to safety, where they were treated. Gandhi eventually succeed in freeing India, but there was one thing that was uncalled for: the Partition. Gandhi was completely against the Partition, because he saw Hindus and Muslims as equal Indians. In Calcutta, it looked like a civil war. Gandhi nearly fasted to death. He only ate again when the chaos completely stopped. As he was making his way to Pakistan, Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu extremist, who believed that Gandhi was too sympathetic towards Muslims. Not long afterwards, Gandhi’s practices traveled to the U.S., when MLK started studying him. Gandhi fascinates me.

I love how he said “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind”.