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  • Writer's pictureJacques Adriaanse

"I Am Prepared to die" by a human

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

"I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realized. But, My Lord, if it needs to be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die." - Nelson Mandela

Human rights day, 21 March 2021, observed on Monday the 22nd of March 2021.

As I wrote this spoken word piece in August 2020, birthed out of pure frustration of watching the world fall apart, getting cleaned up and wrestling with topics I deemed insignificant in advancing society, I started my search for meaning. Lockdown led me to become so obsessed with American politics in 2020 that I forgot where I was actually born. South Africa, 17 January 1996, in the freshly born nation of peace and unity - we hoped.

COVID Lockdown 2020 forced me to wrestle with God, politics, war, love, opinions, faith, the selling of the soul and what it means to live in a peaceful society. At the time my biggest frustration was that people my age group, 20-30 year olds, have developed an immense fear of voicing an opinion, the word 'woke' started to make me nauseous, a word I once saw as a saviour for South Africans. The wake up call came when I realised how it's defeating its own purpose, `I realised I am much more conservative than I promoted myself to be, that all humans have the right to have an opinion about their country, that truth isn't always relative, that the fact that a conversation is difficult - should not mean it's unnecessary and bad, growth pains are necessary. I became furious, madly furious at all the injustices in our country, the whole time thinking thoughts like "Why do we feel we have the same 'pressing' issues as first world countries when people are dying?", " Why is Jacob Zuma untouchable?" "Why do I feel invisible, why am I not allowed to have an opinion?" "Why should I be scared to give my opinion?" "Why have we become so offended?" "Why do Universities continue allowing politics to overrule an educational institute?" "Why does it feel like we are in the 'hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil," phase of a country that is presumably aiming for unity and equality, "Why do I not know the full history of my country?". I freaked out, my parents witnessed it, some of my friends witnessed it and surely God witnessed it.

History. I was busy observing the roller coaster ride of lockdown levels, sometimes feeling like a comedy show, sometimes feeling like communist South Africa, sometimes feeling amazed at how a third world country is implementing policies first world countries are struggling with. Laughing at the possibility of a President being overruled by Dlamini Zuma, the South African Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Having conversations with American Friends who wished their government we're stricter, while my mind only raced to our country's joblessness. Amazed by 'cancel culture' entering the world, even in Lockdown- The ramble inside my mind continued and led me to history, I wondered whether Cyril is busy with a repeat of history somehow, I wondered whether alcohol has ever been banned before? It has.

A big bad mess of end-of-the-world narratives and government tracking entered the arena and I couldn't get my mind off of George Orwell's Animal Farm - gradually the similarities dawned on me.

'I am prepared to die' is a journey through time, a comparison between history and the current progression we are witnessing. Inspiration and reference is made to Animal Farm themes. We are addressed by the infamous George Orwell's Big Brother character of 1984, who in this case also depicts a historian. Although each line has a definite reference and reason, it remains open for interpretation - it is to be noted that it is my belief that we should always ensure that the rights of all humans should be protected, that we are to celebrate human rights day, soberly-minded evaluate where we stand as a country and certainly reflect on practical ways we can improve while upholding truth. Thank God we are here today celebrating the rights of human lives!

“I am prepared to die.” by a human, Jacques Adriaanse



Humans fight

-isms change minds



‘Peaceful’ crowds, could we ever hope/(know)?’know’ (no)

Chapter 2 started

cornering its stone



The rights of ‘you’mens changed its mind



Fades away for Mandela’s rise


30 Times

Universal declaration that humans have lives

One third threatens the safeness of human minds,

2020 Steals its stride.

Twenty thousand women start their rise (“Whatint’ abafazim whatint’ imbokodo”)

In ’56, the fight for dignity starts its life

Orwell wrote in ’45

The fairy-tail that banned some minds

That all two legged beings should die

That all should humbly take their stride


Alcohol banning for Napoleon’s sides

Brutality banning for men to die

“Orwell, Orwell but establishing privilege must be right!?”

And as truth becomes illegal [This whole stanza is a depiction of the now, the times we are living in,

Guns become feeble

As words become evil

Our minds lose all freedom

My dear friend, your equality has lost its stride. (ubuntu)

Humans. We all will live and die,

We all will face violent tribes.

All’s responsibility to be kind

All’s responsibility to live for all

Remains on our s(tr)ide,.. side.

And while you strike the ignorant day by night with words only you and your ding dong decide,

realise that you are not the only human in your own life.

Unapologetically for all lives.

by Jacques Adriaanse written 26 August 2020 for Human Rights day 2021

References & Symbolism:

* '1960': The year of the Sharpeville Massacre,

* 69: The number of black people killed in the Sharpeville Tragedy.

* Chapter 2: Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa is the Bill of Rights.

* "you-mens" : a combination of "you" and "mens", 'mens' means 'Human' in Afrikaans.

* 'fades away for Mandela's rise' : merely a time lapse indication that we have travelled to the victorious moment of Nelson Mandela became president in 1994.

* 96: The year Nelson Mandela signed the Constitution into law: "On 10 December 1948, the United

Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and on the same day in

1996, the Constitution of South Africa was signed into law by former South African President

* "30 times" : There are thirty human rights articles the UN stipulates, South Africa adopted a combination of these articles in our bill of rights.

* "Establishing Privilege": This notes on the fact that we have defined a certain group of people as more privileged than the other and changed the system to prejudice others. A certain group of people’s access to opportunities might be more by coincidence, but a system wherewith it’s forcefully reversed, is questionable.

* '56: 20,000 women marched to the Union Building in Pretoria, singing “wathint' abafazi, wathint' imbokodo – you strike a woman, you strike a rock”.

* '45: Animal farm by George Orwell.

* "ding-dong" - Refers to 'whoever' really is in charge of the decisions, also a reference to Bell Potinger's influence in South Africa.

Visual References:

* Mustache: George Orwell's Big Brother Character in 1984

* "Die Grondwet" : The Constitution Of The Republic of South Africa, the one used in the video was published in 1996, the year Nelson Mandela signed the Constitution into Law. It's an Afrikaans Constitution for the reason that it depicts the a necessary, but difficult, shift that took place in the 90s when South Africa finally moved forward. One can see this Constitition being swiped away from 'Big Brother' as he struggles and twitches while doing it.

* Boxing Gloves: This represents former President Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was known to be a huge lover of boxing, he participated in the sport from a young age, first stepping into the ring as a student in the late 1930s. He could also be found training after hours, when he practiced as an attorney, with his son. Read more at

* 30 scrolls: Representing the 30 Human Rights Articles of the United Nations.

* Blood on Scrolls: The bloodshed for the rights of human lives.

* Dividing scrolls: "one third.." This refers to the third that was needed to guard the peace in South Africa in 1994.

* George Orwell's Animal Farm: This links to the overall theme of Animal Farm towards the end of the spoken word poetry.

* Sand Falling out of Scroll: Represents the 20 000 woman who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in 1956 in a call to recognise their rights, "You strike a women, you strike a rock". (Wathint' Abafazi, Wathint' Imbokodo)

* Snout or the Pig: Depicts the shift(s) that took place in history as well as in the last couple of years, it depicts the corrupt- Animal Farm-like behaviour that have been adopted by some politicians in South Africa, but also around the world, this is in contrast with the dream Nelson Mandela had for our country. The transition from having rights to forgetting the responsibilities that come with it.

* Wine Glass filling up: This depicts the gluttonous fraud that has occurred in the last couple of years in South Africa and the world, while the wine glasses fill up and are pouring over, the people are still dying, still starving, still helpless.

* Change in outfit: The true character is revealed, a fraudulent politician, referring the last couple of years that exposed the masked, deceptive politician.

* Vote for Tr*th pin: The irony that almost all political parties are asking us to vote for them while many of them are merely hungry for the power of the infamous all seeing eye.


(These are merely some of the themes, as it remains open for interpretation)

- The contrast between Nelson Mandela's dream and the current situation.

- It is ironic that we actually need to have written articles protecting the rights of humans, it's at the same time also ironic that there are only thirty articles, perhaps this should be the number of humans on earth, who knows?

- Human Rights: This serves as a golden thread, the number one thing to protect.

- Animal farm: The exploration of the themes in this novel and how it is relevant today.

- George Orwell

- Big Brother, 1984

- Communism

- Corruption

- Hypocrisy

- South Africa

- Political Agendas

Sound Effects and Devices:

* Grandfather clock: The passing of time.

* The repetition of dates at the beginning of Stanzas that almost sound similar, but change was used and explored to indicate the quick passing of time, as well as how we can miss key events in history as the clock ticks.

* Words heard in background like "Ubuntu", serves as our conscience.

* Interruptions, glitches -

- "hope/know/no" : The word 'hope' is a bit too negative for society in this context,

society corrects speech with 'know', subject resists and says 'no' as in 'I'm going to say

what I have to say' and not fall under social speech correction pressure, resisting the

tempation of popularity.

- "stride...side" : This is intentional. Depicting how we correct ourselves when we

sometimes said the right thing but not the politically correct thing.

* "All will" sounding like "Orwell": This serves two purposes, firstly to inspire everyone to take responsibility to create a peaceful society for all people, but also in so doing to take heed that we do not fall into to the trap the novelist clearly warned us about through the lease of history.

* Ding Dong: Apart from the reference mentioned above, it's used as a device to help us realise it's time to take responsibility for our actions.

May we continue to strive for a peace, may we continue to take responsibility to improve the arenas we walk in as well as the communities we live in.

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