A firsthand account of an anti-Apartheid activist and freedom fighter
On Tuesday, April 1, our school had the honour to host a guest speaker from South Africa. Rommel Roberts, a former anti-Apartheid activist, gave a lively speech in English about the history of Apartheid and his fight against it. Born in 1949 to a white South African father and an Indian mother, he soon experienced the consequences of Apartheid for black and coloured people firsthand.
As an influential supporter of the anti-Apartheid movement, he worked with several ecclesiastical organisations and functioned as a personal advisor of Desmond Tutu, the first black Archbishop of Cape Town, who later won the Nobel Peace Prize. He furthermore established a peace centre, which helped to prevent a possible aggressive reaction of the formerly suppressed people when change was close.
Not only did the impressive speaker and author show us personal pictures from his time as a freedom fighter and tell us about his experiences, but he also made us part of black South African culture by singing and performing a brief dance. Mr. Roberts taught us popular rallying cries of the blacks and informed us about the importance of music and dancing for the anti-Apartheid movement since it united and empowered the black people.
Listening to his personal experiences was very interesting and enabled us to emphasize the emotions of his struggle. Especially when he referred to his past and told us how he was whipped as a ten-year-old for having played on a playground for whites only or the several months he spent in prison due to his involvement in the resistance movement. It also meant a lot to us that we had the opportunity to ask questions. Even though some of his answers did not always get to the core of the matter, it was fascinating to listen to this eloquent speaker. We are glad that we had the chance to attend this unforgettable event. This firsthand account was definitely more enlightening than sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher talk about Apartheid.