Guest Blogger Karen Lotter In this time between Christmas and New Year one thinks of all kinds of things. I just had a song running around in my head. It came from a very significant part of my life when I had just started working in Johannesburg as a journalist.
The eighties were stormy and turbulent years in South Africa. For me they were exciting. I was living in Johannesburg. I had a car and I was taking pictures and writing stories. I felt I was part of the changes I was feeling that were happening. Censorship got worse and when the Nats split up and the right wing Afrikaners went off on their own, I knew the ed was near. But the old Apartheid hosre still had plenty of kick. As the regime felt the pressure mount from the liberation movements and the international community they just tightened the screws and stepped up the brutality. Paradise was almostclosing down!
I hear the chorus:
There are better days before us
And a burning bridge behind, fire smokin’ the sky is blazing,
There’s a woman waiting weeping
And a young man nearly beaten all for love.
Paradise was almost closin’ down.
During the 80’s:
- Sporadic boycotting of schools and universities continued
- Barbara Hogan is arrested for High Treason, and sentenced to ten years imprisonment for belonging to banned organization, ANC
- Dr Ruth First, wife of ANC leader Joe Slovo, and herself a political activist, is killed by a letter bomb in Maputo
- Dr Neil Aggett, acting Transvaal Regional Secretary of the African Food and Canning Workers’ Union (AFCWU) is found dead in his cell at the Security Police Headquarters in John Vorster Square, Johannesburg, having been detained, along with several other Trade Union leaders
- South Africa decided to expand its military call-up to include all white men aged between seventeen and sixty-five, almost doubling the size of its forces. Commando units are to be strengthened
- A bomb exploded in the elevator of the building in the centre of Cape Town which houses the President’s Council. One man was killed. According to Security Police, 60 attacks by insurgents belonging to the ANC were recorded last year. That number compares with 19 in 1980 and 12 in 1979
- Albertina Sisulu, wife of ANC leader, Walter Sisulu is placed under a banning order for the fifth time since 1963
- Lieutenant-General Johann Coetzee, Head of the Security Police, announces that Ernest Dipale, arrested under the new Internal Security Act and charged with furthering the aims of a banned organization, has been found hanged in his cell at John Vorster Square. He is the forty-seventh person to die in detention. PFP’s justice spokesperson, Helen Suzman, calls for the whole structure of detention laws to be changed
- The Reverend Beyers Naudé is served with his second banning order, restricting him for a further three years. The order is the first to be served under the comprehensive new security law; the Internal Security Act of 1982, on the sole discretion of the Minister of Law and Order, and the decision cannot be questioned in court.
Please read all the events of the 1980’s in South African history
That was South African in the 80’s and out of the hatred and rage; the idealism and passion came one of the best songs ever written and performed by South Africans. (Written by Patrick van Blerk) Paradise Road by the group known as Joy. Just listen to Paradise Road – Here are the lyrics.
It was 1980 and Paradise Road by Joy – stayed at #1 on the Springbok Radio charts for nine consecutive weeks. Joy was: Felicia Marian, Thoko Ndlozi and Anneline Malebo. Prior to Joy, each singer led a solo career.
Well, that is the song that I can’t get out of my head, and as I promised Di I’d do a guest post of two for her, I thought I’d share it with you.