I’ve been thinking about what I want my legacy to be. In a few months, one of the greatest chapters of my life will come to a close and I will be thrust into the real world. Well sort of, the real world under the guise of a slightly pretentious postgraduate student. It suddenly dawned on me that soon it would be time to stop reading about equality, about human rights and scrutinising countless verbose academic texts with my all empowering degree in politics and probably start doing something about it.
15 years ago, my goals were clear, I knew what I wanted and firmly believed that I could achieve anything with a wishing well and a few cents. I wanted to save everyone, I would throw my coin into the well and silently wish for world peace and occasionally a puppy. There was so much I didn’t understand then. I didn’t understand human rights, I didn’t understand equality or freedom because I couldn’t fathom not having them or anyone else being denied them. That’s the great thing about my family, you soon begin to understand. The stories of my childhood were of people I knew, these formidable men and dignified women who had done something great. They had done something that I’ve always wanted to thank them for, they had guaranteed me my human rights, my equality, my freedom. While so many people learned about the struggle for freedom for 45 minutes a day in history, I was surrounded by these people who had fought vehemently for what they believed in and told me their enthralling stories while I sat wide-eyed, listening intently, scared that I might miss a word.
I imagine that one day my 5 year old self would ask me, “so did we ever manage world peace?” and I would reply, “no, I just wrote a lot about our disillusionment with the world.” She would probably walk away slightly disappointed, discontented with the idea of her wishes not coming true. But I’ve long realised that wishing wells don’t work and world peace is the untenable ideal that only beauty queens hold onto. So what shall my legacy be? For now, I think I’ll cling on to words. I’ll remember when my mom told me about Chris Hani’s funeral, when my aunt told me about the UDF, how I learned about apartheid through personal testimonies of segregation, lost siblings, brutality and triumph. I’ll remember the stories of my great-great grandfather who stood for passive resistance, for satyagraha, for change. I’ll remember how I felt when I heard these stories and I’ll remember that these stories are the reason why I sit so disillusioned and seek the solice of words, words that tell fantastic tales of people fighting for human rights, for equality, for freedom.