Umshini wam III – My weapon of choice
By Khaya Witbooi
150cm X 100cm
Oil and spray paint on canvas
When South Africa became a democracy in 1994, it came with the promise of change for all its people. Tools previously used to oppress now had to change to become tools that help and nurture.
The structure of the Apartheid system was intended to submit the black population. If that regime structured the townships with an intention to submit, what difference does it make if the present regime continues with those structures? It is so bad that people in their cry for service delivery have openly stated that living conditions during the apartheid regime was better. Though this, in my opinion, is not entirely true, it illustrates how the present government has not paid attention to the fact that change does not only mean majority rule. It also means the empowerment of all.
The use of a gun in this painting is not an attempt to make a militant statement. It is an attempt to draw attention to the fact that the mental attitude of our police also has not shifted. Theirs should be about being of service and the protection of the people. If someone wants you to fear him because he has a gun, what difference does it make whether he is a police officer or a thug? It is not the gun, but the person behind the gun that is the issue.
The hammer has a dual purpose; it can hit nails into wood but it can also take them out. Is our police force a symbol of protection or fear? If it is the latter, we are still being oppressed.