Under the Foot of the Mountain

Danielle Ni Dhighe nidhighe at irsm.org
Sun Feb 24 19:17:36 MST 2002

The Blanket
Winter 2002

Under the Foot of the Mountain
by Brendan Hughes

I had a walk down the Grosvenor Road yesterday to see my sister, to
the place I was born, to the place my father brought up six children
on his own, to a place I spent almost four years on the run, a place
where we fought the B Specials, RUC, British Army, British
Intelligence, and undercover killers. A place where poor people left
their front and back doors open. A place where you had to get to know
every yard wall in the event of a Brit army raid. A place where we
had great hopes of our Republic.

But it had all changed. I saw nice new houses. No more yard walls;
one way in and one way out. Most of the old people who had fed and
looked after us, gone, dead and buried. The old people's home knocked
down, leaving a wide open space, being prepared for the next rogue
builder to come in and build some cheap houses for the poor people of
this area. But what struck me was the view the place had left for us
to see and wonder at.

Towering above the small and neat houses, like two giants protecting
those who can afford entry into their bellies; reminding us that we
are in the place we belong. The giants even have their names boldly
written across their foreheads - Europa and Russell Court. It reminds
me of a time I sailed into Cape Town on a merchant ship. The imposing
table top mountain towering above - beautiful sight. A sight that
cried out for you to come up and see.

That is, until you step off the ship and witness the ugly feet of
this mountain. The poor, the hungry, the poverty this great beauty
hides. Before leaving the ship we are told to stay away from the
shantytowns, and especially stay away from 'District 6' as I'm sure
many visitors to our Europa are told when they arrive in Belfast. Of
course many things have changed in South Africa, many things have
changed in the North. But have they?

Yes, for some! But for the majority of people, poor people, here and
in South Africa, nothing much has changed. We still have the rogue
employer, maybe a different colour, maybe a different religion. We
are allowed to climb the mountain but few can afford to do so. Few
people living under the shadow of the Europa can afford to spend one
night in its belly.

We spend billions of pounds each year on weapons. Each year millions
of children die both from hunger, and from the weapons we spend
billions on. More often than not whether in Western Europe, South
Africa or Palestine the biggest rogue employers are the people tasked
with governing us.

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