Sunday, November 4, 2012

"Cry, the beloved country"

"Cry, the beloved country" is the title of a recent Economist article about the challenges South Africa is facing at this point of its history. Also the title of a 1948 book by Alan Paton. This book was prescribed reading for schoolgoers during apartheid. Even then I suspected it was more of an "alibi" as school authorities attempted to prove their "non-racist" credentials. Perhaps a useful litmus test for many as to how aware they truly are of the subtext of what we were taught at white schools at that time.

That is what the title of that article evokes for very many - and content of the article aside - may explain some of the sceptism to the article!

All that aside, I want to share a passage from that book which I have always loved and somehow still resonates with something in me when it comes to South Africa, though I would use the word "injustice" instead of "fear".

Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that is the inheritor our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, not stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing, not give too much of his heart to a mountain or valley. For fear will rob him of all if he gives too much.

Alan Paton
Cry, the beloved country

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