What Pegman Saw – Mandela Dances

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code. This week’s prompt is Free State, South Africa.

WPS - Mandela Dances 200118

Mandela Dances

“I saw Mandela dance,” said Johnny Kwele, gesturing at the screen behind the bar. “I was there. Look at that joy! He was a god! Apartheid was over.” He sipped his scotch.

“I was a subsistence farmer in Free State. The goldmines paid better, but, well, you know.” I nodded. My recent retirement had taught me the value of freedom.

“One day an ANC boss came from Pretoria, a local boy. They were planning a dairy farm, he said. If we signed up, we’d have a stake, run it as a co-operative. They were going to fly us to India for training.”

He laughed, shook his head.

“Nothing happened. The money disappeared. This country makes a lot of money and none of it reaches the poor.”

“Your leaders are corrupt?”

Johnny glared.

“If you want to know where the money goes, ask your pension fund!”

The image of Mandela danced on.

11 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw – Mandela Dances

    • Dear Iain
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      The promise of the deal that ended apartheid was never going to come to pass, it seems. Senior officials of the ANC appear to have embezzled millions – but it would seem that billions have been siphoned off by the elite of global capitalism. Incidentally, the story about the dairy is true.
      With very best wishes

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ending apartheid did not end all wrong or corruption nor did it erase decades of deliberate inequality, let alone when there was deliberate ‘divide and conquer’ by the colonialists, who preferred to keep people at each other’s throat, and purposely sowed distrust among tribes, inflaming historical issues in order to keep people turned onto each other, rather than on the white minority. It takes more than one generation, more than two, even, to rebuild. The people of South Africa are strong, proud, bright people. I hope they’ll find a way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Na’ama
      Thank you for reading and commenting so thoughtfully. This is obviously a subject close to your heart.
      “The people of South Africa are strong, proud, bright people.” Yes, I agree 100%, and , like you, I hope they find a way of reaching a more just society. They have a free press who are active in reporting corruption which should help.
      The point of my story, though, is that western capitalism is still skewing the game. For example, KPMG seem to be unable to identify corrupt payments in company accounts, and they offer to refund their fee when challenged, which seems to me to be a bit of a giveaway. Of course, too, corruption is not restricted to South Africa; it happens world-wide, including in the UK. (I once had improper pressure applied when I worked in the Environment Agency. I made a robust response and the [very] senior person involved backed off)
      Incidentally, don’t think that I’m not aware of my presumption in offering a partial diagnosis of South Africa’s ills. The sentence “My recent retirement had taught me the value of freedom.” is written with deep irony. As a white European, my appreciation of the freedom achieved by the defeat of apartheid can’t be remotely like that of a South African citizen.
      I’d like to say a very heartfelt ‘thank you’ to you for responding so openly to my story. I hoped it would prompt debate, and it has!
      With very best wishes, and great affection

      Liked by 2 people

      • Debate is great! (rhyming first thing in the morning here. It’s gonna be a day! ;)) …
        But, yes, thank you for YOUR thoughtful response. Corruption corrupts. It sounds glib but it is also a reality – it spreads, it takes hold, it seeps into unseen layers and weaken structures that can appear robust. So, yes, there is much corruption (some of it still remnant of colonialism, all over the world, the US and the UK are of course not exempt from it, having been actively involved in it … as are religious institutions … and some of it precedes colonialism and had fed its sense of entitlement). It takes a long time to clean it up and sometimes calls for re-building and often for opening up and airing difficult things.
        Still, it is possible. It is possible. I have to believe it is possible.
        In the US, it is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. A good day to remember the impact of corruption and racism and greed, and to hope for better equality and true humanity.
        Amen …

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The image of Mandela dancing — and the memories of hope at that time — are especially both joyous and bittersweet on today, when we are honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Your characters do a good job of conveying through their dialogue all the complications and frustrations of poisonous politics and promises not kept.


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