Cry Freedom by John Briley

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Cry Freedom by John Briley

In the middle of 1970s, the government of South Africa has a policy of racial segregation. Frequent protests against the ruling regime. Donald Woods – editor of the liberal newspaper “Daily Dispech” published articles critical of one of the leaders of the “Black identity.” Addressed Steve Biko. He condemns Biko because he does not have a flexible approach to accumulate racial issues. Steve Biko invited editor in his area. Woods had seen miserable conditions in which the black population lives. After they met Woods changed his mind to Biko. White and black population have to live in equal conditions. They became good friends. Woods was officially banned by the Government of South Africa and he was not allowed to leave their place of residence. Biko is arrested soon.

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Cry Freedom by John Briley

Where the River Buffalo flows into the warm Indian Ocean, on the south-east coast of South Africa, lies the city of East London, with its wonderful climate, beautiful sandy beaches, clear sea, and evergreen trees. It is the home, too, of the Daily Dispatch, the respected newspaper which in November 1975 began a new battle with the South African Government.

Cry Freedom by John Briley

Donald Woods, editor of the Daily Dispatch, sat at his desk looking at the stories for the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper. There was a story on the government’s refusal of a new appeal for the release of Nelson Mandela. There was also a story on the pardon for Richard Nixon by President Ford of the United States of America, which Woods had intended to use as the main story. But news had just come in of a police raid on the black township called Crossroads, in Cape Town, more than a thousand kilometres away on the south-west tip of South Africa. Woods moved the stories around on his desk. He would make the Crossroads story the main story, and move news of a Japanese factory in Durban to the back page.

‘Boss!’ Ken Robertson, one of the journalists on the Daily Dispatch, burst into the office and threw a bundle of photographs on to Woods’ desk. He lit a cigarette and began to smoke as Woods looked through the photographs.

They were pictures of the police raid on Crossroads: a woman holding a baby in her arms in front of her wrecked home; two policemen beating a boy; an old man sitting in an armchair, with broken walls around him; a policeman with a whip chasing a girl; a bulldozer smashing through a tiny kitchen.

Woods looked up at Ken in amazement. ‘How did you get these?’

Ken smiled. ‘I got them. Do we dare use them?’

Woods examined the pictures again. In Cape Town black workers could get work without work permits. Some of these workers brought their families with them, which was also against the law, and built a room for them out of wooden boxes or bits of tin. White employers benefited from the low wages the illegal workers accepted. However, from time to time, so that the town did not become permanent, the police came with whips and burning tear gas, forcing the men into police buses and moving them out of the city. Then the bulldozers came to tear apart the houses made of wooden boxes, and bits of tin.

Woods suddenly smiled. ‘I’ll print them,’ he said. ‘I’ll even put your name underneath them.’

‘Thanks!’ Ken responded. ‘If the police pick me up, your name will be the first on my lips!’

The law did not allow newspapers to print photographs of police beating black people, but if there were enough violent pictures the government sometimes let the matter drop in order to prevent the newspapers giving the public more information…

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