Where were you when Chris Hani was killed?

Chris Hani, a prominent ANC and Communist Party leader, was murdered on April 10, 1993, by white racists. The writer remembers hearing the news.

Downtown Johannesburg (Photo: Martyn Smith via Flickr CC).

On the day Chris Hani died, I was in our flat on Grafton and Minors in Yeoville. My dad called.  I turned on the TV to hear the worst news. I remember being quite hysterical, laughing, not because I thought it was funny.  Somehow, tears seemed too little and my emotions were confused.  I hear that an aunt of mine laughs when she is sad.  I had only had occasion to meet him once.  We were visiting Umkhonto weSizwe cadres on hunger strike in hospital: Neo, Ting Ting, Jabu.  I had a crush on Ting.  We were sitting on the floor in the corridor of the hospital one fine day, an ordinary day, waiting for the doctors to tend to our comrades.  Then, the light became brighter, the world slowed down, and walking down the corridor in a haze of nostalgia was our hero, Chris Hani.  He shook our hands.  And we were forever touched.

Central Johannesburg (Simon Inns via Flickr).

When he was murdered, we drove with our neighbor Andrew who was also a soldier, to visit his family in Boksburg.  We were lost in Vosloo looking for the place.  I pulled over and asked someone, where is Dawn Park? he didn’t understand me.  Andrew leaned over and said, “Dawna Puck.”  He directed us there.  My silly colonial monotone.

I like to think that Chris, Ting Ting and Andrew are together now, looking out for us, reining us in, and maybe even steering us back on track.

Rest in power, our comrades.  You will never be forgotten.

Further Reading

Beyond the headlines

Recent violence across the Eritrean diaspora is being instrumentalized by populists. But the violence is a desperate cry for attention and requires the Eritrean opposition to seize the moment for regime change.

Action required

Held in Nairobi this month, the inaugural Africa Climate Summit is an important step for the continent’s response to climate change. Still, the disasters in Libya and Morocco underscore that rhetoric and declarations are not enough.

The strange non-death of Bantustans

That South African political parties across the spectrum were quick to venerate the politician and Zulu prince Mangosutho Buthelezi, who died last week, demonstrates that the country is still attached to Bantustan ideology.

Shifting the guilt

Even though Israeli novelist Agur Schiff’s latest book is meant to be a satirical reflection on the legacy of slavery and stereotypes about Africa, it ends up reinforcing them.

Banana Republics

Western leftists are arguing among themselves about whether there will be bananas under socialism. In Africa, however, bananas do not necessarily represent the vagaries of capitalism.