South Africa, when compared to other countries around the world, although still faces many challenges that arise from having a young democracy, has and upholds a constitution that is admired and respected across the entire universe. Our constitution managed to turn a country that was once annihilated by colonisation and then apartheid, into a country that undeniably now stands for, and celebrates freedom and a democracy.
Chapter 2 of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa is home to the Bill of Rights, which is a human rights charter which aims to protect the civil, political and socio- economic rights of all the citizens of the Republic. In it, the two most debated and liberating human rights reside: Freedom of expression and Freedom of religion, belief and opinion.
Right now, I probably seem like a very conscious and “legally- inclined” individual. If I were to be completely honest with you, the last time I held a copy of the constitution in my hands was probably more than 10 years ago. I remember my father telling me how important the “book” was but never being able to explain its importance in a way that I could understand or appreciate it like he did, and still does, as he lived and bore the scars of the apartheid regime.
On the 19th of March 2015, Farkhunda Malikzada, a 27 year old female living in Afganistan was making her way home, where she stopped by the Shah-e Du Shamshira shrine, in the centre of Kabul to say her prayers. This is where she then got into an argument with the caretaker of this shine about the selling of charms – little scraps of paper bearing Koranic verses, which she deemed superstitious and haram. The argument then escalated when the caretaker began to shout that Farkhunda was an American and has burned the Koran. This grabbed the attention of the many men surrounding the shrine and an attack began where Farkhunda was beaten(by all these men), stoned(by all these men), kicked (by all these men), thrown from a rooftop and eventually burned alive until her protesting voice was silenced and her body was left on the outskirts of Kabul.
“Farkhunda went from being a figure of loathing to a martyr where she was beaten and burned alive in the streets of Kabul. More than 1,000 people gathered for her funeral. In an unprecedented act for a country where burials are often male-only events, her coffin was carried to the grave by women.”
Please, if you are not a sensitive person, I encourage you to actually go on YouTube and watch the videos taken and uploaded of this event. I cannot post the videos or the images on my blog… because I just cannot go through it again.
You see, its so easy to feign gratefulness and understanding when something does not resonate with you in your core. Its so easy to call all the vegans you see-crazy, Christian’s-delusional, Muslim’s-terrorists, African’s-the worlds begging basket, the effects of apartheid- history, when the most you know about these things are what the TV tells you or the stories you hear from a 3rd party source.
The word Freedom as defined by a Google search result is: “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants”. We can obviously agree that to some degree most of us possess this in majority of the countries we live in. I mean,if you are reading my blog post right now, without and sort of fear overcoming you, I would say you have some degree of freedom yes? But what about the Farkhunda’s of this world? What about the women and children who live a life of oppression daily, where they can hardly speak as they wish, never mind think for themselves? Where expressing a “no” or condemning a wrong or illegal action lands them a public, undignified death.
Death is as common as life. The uncommon, significant bit is the “how” of life. This gift that presents itself in freedom of expression and freedom of religion, belief or opinion, is something so rare and not afforded to many in the world. Farkhunda, a modern age martyr now lives on as a symbol of liberation and an emancipation for all women across the world, what more for the effort the rest of us, who have this freedom, could be making to transform the world? With just your voice (because it really is so powerful), what are you doing? What are you saying? Who are you telling? What are you changing?
Because if your answer is nothing, there is a gap in the world missing your input and its time to connect with God, to fill that void you’ve been carrying around. Drop your burdens and external influences and insecurities and live the life you were born to live. Change the world in the way YOU WERE MEANT TO CHANGE IT.