‘An end to the race war in our lifetime’

2011-07-26 15:56

South Africans need to stop using their votes as tokens to avoid defining their problems according to race, says author and journalist Denis Beckett.

“The issue of race will fall away when people start interpreting their votes as more than an opportunity of putting their cross on the ballot paper every few years,” said Beckett at a public lecture held at the University of Johannesburg today.

In his speech titled, “So in what century does the race war end?”, Beckett blamed the racial tensions that exist in society on what he termed the “silent majority”.

“We need to stop expecting the minority to act on behalf of the majority to bring about the change we want in our society,” he said.

Beckett said to achieve this goal, people needed to play an active role within their communities instead of expecting the people they have elected into office to implement the changes that they want to see.

“In doing so, the end of the race war would then mean dealing with issues that matter rather than being concerned with what race the person who is experiencing the problem is. We will be able to deal with poverty without attaching race to it or blaming it for the wrongs in our lives,” said Beckett. “Yes we managed to achieve democracy and even got it with a bang but what do we do with it now that we have it,” he asked.

Beckett said the solution lay in society’s ability to break out of the shell they have created around themselves. “As South Africans we are unbelievably fraught with the past and if we don’t do something about it now, we are always going to be stuck in the race issue.

“For decades South Africans have been wailing that they cannot get out of apartheid. Well, now is the time to do something about it,” he said.

It all starts with that lady at the street corner selling mealies who needs to lead the way for what she wants.

“Therefore I do think that the race war can end in this century and in our lifetime,” said Beckett.

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