Occupy the Rondebosch Common | by Lillina Ruiters

by Mar 15, 2012Magazine

Where were the old revolutionaries?
occupy-rondebosch-commonOn Friday, 27 January, about 100 people marched from Manenberg to Rondebosch Common bent on occupying the wasted land resource. The march turned sour after the City refused to allow it to proceed. The protesters insisted (on what should have been theirs by constitutional right) and the police turned violent. Forty-one people were arrested, including my mother and I. We were handled roughly, imprisoned and only let out eight hours later (at around 12 am) after my father (Prof. Greg Ruiters) and Prof. Hugh Corder had spent time and resources finding lawyers willing to help us.
My question is: Where were the other old leftists and progressive thinkers when we were thrown into jail? Why weren’t they at the march supporting the people and providing the much-needed protection for the new generation of activist youth? Why did they not arrive at the police station to protest, to help, or to show support?
What the new generation of young activists need is a support base, a mentorship on the part of old activists who need to remember that the struggle is not over. Rather, the struggle is twofold: before the focus was political freedom, now we march for economic freedom and economic democracy. The methods that were used during the struggle against apartheid need to be re-instated and modified by the youth to gain this new economic democracy that is so desperately needed in our country.
Firstly, if the old left had been present on Friday, perhaps the march would not have been pronounced illegal. Someone would have been helping Proudly Manenberg fight the struggle for legality and for the City’s ‘permission’ to march. Secondly, the mistakes that were made during the march (like sitting down and giving the police the opportunity to violently arrest us instead of walking on) could have been avoided by the battle-worn activists who know how to direct and organise a march.
It is possible that the old left is scared of losing the things that they fought so hard for during the struggle. I, as the new left, salute you and applaud your struggle, but I also say that democracy is ours by right and it is not something that the international world or our government will ever be allowed to take away from us.
The righteous anger of the people needs a channel. Their anger needs a platform, a forum from which to be expressed. I challenge the old left to stand up and to help the new left in creating this space.

Male and Guardian: The marginalisation of women throughout history
Just a while ago, about 100 people marched to Rondebosch Common as part of the Occupy Movement. Most of these people were working-class women. Yet, the only views that have found their way into the media are those of a young white male who participated in the march and repeated statements by male counterparts. Not a single newspaper or radio station has featured the words of these women. Is it their coloured accents that aren’t as easy for the white listeners to relate to? Or is it simply the fact that the idea of the ‘white liberal’ being supportive of a cause – any cause that could be considered progressive – needs to be revived? The public needs to know that the progressive white boy, son of a UCT professor, was at the march. While the media continues to place such great emphasis on this fact, the real message and purpose of the march and that of the Manenberg women is lost.
Throughout history women have been continually marginalised. Their stories have been lost or never even considered, continually overshadowed by the stories of men. I was at the march on Friday and was arrested with my mother. It is vital to emphasise that of the 40 people arrested, 26 were women. Women who were brave enough to come to a march – some leaving children at home – knowing that an arrest was possible. Women who faced up to male policemen, refusing to back down. Women who added their voices, loud and clear, to the throng of others clamouring for real democracy and equality in our country.
Where are these women and why have their views not been the focal point of this February’s media mania?
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