South Africa, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Dublin City discussed on The Moth Radio Hour
Mandates that we're no longer tto handle South African produce because of power. We know very little about South Africa. We didn't know how to pronounce or spell apart thighs. But we followed the union instruction. We went around the store to find out what was South African. It was mainly out span oranges and grapefruits and inform management that we were going to follow this instruction. We were immediately put on cash registers on. I remember sitting there myself Mary Money on this D. C on this woman coming up with two outs span grapefruit in her basket. And we looked at each other, and we prayed that she wasn't going to come to one of us, but she did. She came to marry Manning and Mary Manning refused. TTO handle South African produce on was suspended. We came out on strike. And that was the first day the 19th of July 1984 at a quarter past 12 on Thursday, and I remember it well that the dawn stores anti apartheid strike started. As I said, we knew very little about South Africa. We knew there was discrimination, but we didn't know what sort of discrimination it was about. We were a few days on the picket line on a man called Nimrods jacket came onto the picket line and he started telling us about washed with South African on what was a parasite all about. He was an exile from South Africa, and he's been living in Ireland for about 15 years. And he told us what it was like to be a black person living in South Africa. You couldn't sit on the same seat as a white person. You couldn't use the same toilet. You had to be out of the cities and the towns that white people lived in by a certain time and you had to have a passbook to leave her township. And he described what a parasite was like in one of the best ways that I could describe it. It was like a pint of Guinness. A majority of the people living in South Africa were black on the minority, wer Weiss. Unlike a pint of Guinness, the white satin top of black Because of Nimrod. And what he was telling us about South Africa. That changed for us personally, it no longer became a union instruction. We were never ever going to handle South African goods until apartheid gun and freedom for everybody in South Africa had been achieved. Strike went on, a union official told us maybe a couple of weeks. We were six months on strike. When we got an invitation to meet Bishop Desmond Tutu. He was coming from America going over to Oslo to pick up a Nobel peace prize. And he said, I'd like to meet the Dawn Star striker's in London. So as we did being shop workers We got in a car and we drove and took the ferry over to London to meet Bishop Desmond Tutu, who was about collect Nobel Peace Prize and I remember being there and it was the first time that we really had any mate media interest. And the cameras are there on this small little man comes into the room on people that know me know I'm not a very huggy person. So the first thing he does is common holds us unlike old God. And then he told off on DH media how proud he was of us and how brave we were. And for somebody like that, to say that it just brought more passion to us than we ever had before. And he told us that he would go back to South Afghan. He would tell the ordinary workers. Thie ordered black workers in South Africa that they went on their own that their woz people from other countries that cared enough to do something. About I was in December of 84. We were six months on strike. We went through a long winter. And then as the first anniversary of the strike happened. We were getting very little support from the government from a lot of Irish people on from the trade union movement, but we stuck to our guns. Bishop Desmond Tutu asked us to come to South Africa to see for ourselves what parasite was all about. And we had no money to go because we had earned When we were working about a £5 week. We were now on £21. The union would only give us the £1000 on the trip is going to cost about 1000. So one night in Dublin City. We got many supporters as we could together, and we went around every pub in Dublin City, raising funds for that trip, and we raised £7000 in 1985. To go on that trip to South Africa. That was the support we got from ordinary working class people in Dublin. Trip was organized on we headed off to Heathrow on DH was about to board the plane, for sure, with plain to Heathrow or in Heathrow to go to South Africa on we were stopped and held for a number of hours there. They wouldn't let us on the plane because the South Africans horrors he's Wouldn't allow the plane to land eventually through negotiations. We boarded the plane to be told afterwards that the captain had told all the passengers that we were the reason the plane has been delayed for so long. We were all separated. We weren't allowed to sit together so you can imagine the atmosphere. We were quite terrified on remember. We're only 20. The youngest of us was 17. The oldest was 20 for the rest of us were all 20. We arrived in hand Smuts Airport, which is now by the way, called Oliver Tambo Airport. On DH. When we arrived on each side of the tarmac, there were soldiers. We thought this was normal. We arrived in to get a passports checked and soldiers came and asked us where we the group from Ireland. We said we were Immediately. It was about 40 armed soldiers around us with machine guns. We were escorted upstairs. We were held under armed guard for eight hours. We did not know what was going to happen to us because we had heard stories of people disappearing one cigar to South Africa. Answered. African Black South Africans themselves period. Eventually, we were informed that we were going to be sent back on the same plane. But why we were there for eight hours. We couldn't even go to the bathroom where two women soldiers would come in with us. And the door would have to stay open. When we got eventually back on the.