Some 220 years ago the British defeated the Dutch in the battle of Muizenberg and seized the Cape Colony for their king across the water.
It was really more of a skirmish than a battle. Just a couple of soldiers killed. Even so, the battle of Muizenberg was a hugely important event in this country — the beginning of the end of Dutch rule in South Africa.
On this cool and windy April morning, I join South Africans of all races who’ve come together in the second battle of Muizenberg to demand the end of Zuma rule in South Africa.
People line the Main Road in a human chain all the way from Muizenberg station to beyond the Masque Theatre. And from there, in clumps, all the way to Cape Town and Parliament.
They carry signs — Save South Africa … Give Us Back Our Country … Zuma Must Fall … Zupta Must Go … End State Capture … Deliver Us From Evil.
And they wave the national flag and chant and dance and sing and black and white South Africans join together in the national anthem Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
Lord protect our nation,
Stop wars and sufferings,
Protect it, Protect our nation,
The nation of South Africa, South Africa.
Cars and trucks drive past the protesters and honk their horns and the people in the cars wave flags and shout Save South Africa and the people lining the road shout Save South Africa back at them.
Strangers hold hands to form a human chain. Black hands hold white hands. Young hands hold old hands. Black and white, rich and poor, they greet each other and smile and laugh with each other because today on this Muizenberg morning ordinary people are coming together in the street to reclaim their poisoned democracy.
For many, it’s the first anti-government protest they’ve ever joined. For many, they say, it won’t be the last.
This is no traditional, angry, bitter political party rally threatening violence, demanding an end to “monopoly white capital” and the start of “Radical Economic Transformation” (whatever these things are) and “Foreigners Go Home.”
Instead, it’s a rare and joyous celebration of togetherness, of coming together to say we are South Africans, we are citizens, this is our country and we want it back.
Muizenberg isn’t a seat of power like Tshwane or Johannesburg or Cape Town. It’s a small seaside town mostly devoted to sun, surf and tourists.
But standing out there on this morning between the two cannons last used in the first battle of Muizenberg, I look around and see all these faces alight with resolve and that most essential or all human emotions — hope.
And I join in that hope. And I think back to that day twenty-three years ago when Madiba stood there in front of the Union Buildings and everything was possible and hope shone through the land when he swore:
“… to obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution and all other Law of the Republic; to discharge my duties with all my strength and talents to the best of my knowledge and ability and true to the dictates of my conscience; to do justice to all; and to devote myself to the well-being of the Republic and all its people.”
And then I remember that Jacob Zuma took that same oath of office and tears well in my eyes.
But the tears don’t last.
All around me in the second battle of Muizenberg this morning South Africans of all races laugh and sing and hold hands and their energy and hope is contagious.
And I know, truly know, that in the end — however long it takes and whatever the odds — we shall overcome.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.