A small crowd gathered to celebrate Cape Town and South Africa’s first Mad Pride near District Six, site of forced removals during the apartheid era. Although few in number, and overwhelmed by the irony of the situation,there is a sense of achievement in the face of great odds.

This despite the detention of David Stolper, an activist associated to MindFreedom International and Centre for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP), who has been carrying the banner of Mind Freedom for some time.

Other problems experienced is the fact that some of us are under threat of commitment, and the survivor movement in South Africa is particularly weak. Then there is the problem that most consumers have been marginalised by the apartheid system, and further abused by coercive psychiatry, and psychiatric prescription posing as treatment.

As a member of newly launched International Association for the Advancement of the Creatively Maladjusted (IAACM), I am demanding treatment alternatives and the right to be different.

Members of the Cape Consumer Advocacy Body (CCAB), World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (WNUSP), and IAACM therefore convened at 10H00 this morning.

Good weather and an excellent winter sunrise, helped to keep us all in good spirits, and we sat and talked about resistance and future mobilisation efforts, before marching to Parliament and staging a vigil & picket for the victims of coercive psychiatric abuse. We also protested against Electro-Shock Therapy, Forced Treatment and Involuntary Commitment Laws and a memorandum is on its way to parliamentarians.

Public reaction was generally positive, although one could tell by the look on people’s faces that they were dismayed at the exposure of a dark-side of our democratic system. Although Mad Pride has supporters from students and artists, there was no media exposure and some reticence from the general public, perhaps out of fear of the coercive system.

South Africa’s mental health system is also particularly notorious for committing anti-apartheid activists and continues to incarcarate people accused of mental illness, despite regulations outlawing politically-motivated admissions.

Moosa Salie, WNUSP co-chair donated flyers, took photographs, and handed out cool drinks and “french fries” as part of the organisations outreach. We hope to have pictures up either on a web-site or Mad Pride blog. Hopefully future events will be much larger and with more support, anything could happen. The vision of a cross-disability, mental rights platform in South Africa is definitely on the horizon, but there are very real obstacles in terms of capacity and organisation that need to be addressed first.

Photos and a report also found here:

http://southafrica.indymedia.org/news/2007/07/12612.php

Also, you may hear an audio radio interview with one of the organizers, Moosa Salie here:

http://myweb.absamail.co.za/moosa_salie


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