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Hier kom ‘people’s power’


   25 August 2017   l   Johnny Masilela    l   Views: 113   l   7 months ago  

 


There was this simmering mistrust between black and white journalists in years gone by.

While some of the white news hounds blushingly tried to be friendly towards us darkies and vice versa, there were those who chose to keep to themselves.

One of those I perceived to have wished to keep his distant from black journalists, was this oke — his name evades my memory — who worked for a rather conservative Afrikaans title in Pretoria West.

There we were, anxiously waiting for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, to speak to us about the emotive economic sanctions against Apartheid South Africa.

Naturally, white journalists would be aggressive in their questions, attempting to corner Tutu on how sanctions affected poor blacks mostly.

But then, the oke from the conservative press kept his silence, as we black news hounds “cushioned” the archbishop, with questions that were somewhat supportive of his stance against the nationalist government.

At the end of the emotion-charged news conference, the guy from the conservative press addressed Tutu, to the effect that he wished to ask for a deeply personal favour, and the archbishop encouraged him to go ahead.

Then the guy produced a biography of the archbishop from a leather bag, pleading with a stunned Tutu to sign the book for him, against the backdrop of astonished stares from his fellow colleagues.

Back at the news agency bureau, I related this moving moment to colleague Norman Patterton who, typically, burst into laughter.

Enter a working class-like Afrikaner couple, who demanded to see the “groot baas” of the place.

Norman winked and pointed his finger at my corner desk, but the couple flatly refused to be interviewed by yours truly.

Then after engaging at length with Norman about how the man’s former employer, the South African Railways, had off-loaded him, and allegedly short-changed him in terms of pension and other pay-outs.

Norman advised the man to seek help from the erstwhile Department of Manpower, to which the couple’s body language became cynical.

Then the two stepped out into the corridor, whispered to each other for a while and returned, back to me this time around.

The man smiled at me, with the woman blushing. Then the million-oxen question: “Dink jy Cosatu kan help?”

 


 

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