Today is Okhi day, a public holiday in Greece to commemorate Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas's rejection of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Mussolini on October 28, 1940. The ultimatum was presented to him at dawn after a party in the German embassy (Fascists are nothing if not theatrical) demanding that Axis troops be allowed to enter Greek territory.
The answer, allegedly, was the single word "no".
In response to the Greek's not agreeing to their plans, Italian troops attacked the Greek border at 5.30am. See what happens when you don't invite all the dictators to your party.
On the morning of October 28th the Greek population took to the streets shouting 'okhi'. The day was officially named Okhi Day in 1942.
I like the idea of a day to say no for two reasons. There's so much happening that we should be standing up and shouting NO about. And saying no is not always very easy. My totally unrealistic work schedule is proof of that.
But there are some things that we should be prepared to stand up and refuse, regardless of the consequences. And one of those things is the current preoccupation with death threats in South Africa.
It may have been sparked by ANC youth league leader Malema and his asinine calls to Kill for Zuma, but more likely its something that has been simmering under the surface for a while now. What happens when ANC dissidents have a meeting? People toyi toyi outside, chanting "Kill Terror". (To an outsider it sounds like something Bush would chant, but actually it refers to Terror Lekota, hero of the struggle, champion of the people until he stopped toeing the party line).
The Khayelitsha Festival, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Cape Town's biggest suburb, was held last week. Some felt that too many whities were on the organising committee, so what's the response? Death threats!
And its not just a black thing. An Afrikaans journalist I know regularly receives death threats whenever she mentions evolution in her stories.
Why not just say no?
No, I don't agree with you.
No, I think the committee was not representative.
No, I am not going to forget the hurt of the past and I don't want you to live in my country.
or even, NO I am not going to follow the herd. I'm going to think for myself.
Talking about herds, my son Ben has a theory that cows don't moo. They stand in the fields shouting Nooooo! No, because they know they are going to end up as steak and shoes, nooo because their babies are taken from them at birth, nooo because they have no say over what happens in their lives and noooo because the only time there is any flavour variation in their diet is when they happen to eat a bug.
We could follow the example of the Greeks and the cows and run out into the streets, shouting our NOs for all the world to hear. But surely we don't need to kill those who don't share our sentiments?