Friends & Friction: Is our heritage just about burnt meat?

2013-09-22 10:00

Caution. Our national heritage is being reduced to a braai, as Heritage Day is taken over by commercial interests that are rebranding it “national braai day”.

Yes, centuries from now, as excavators travel from north to south, they will find pyramids in Egypt, the Towers of Monomotapa in Zimbabwe, and in South Africa the great attraction will not be Mapungubwe or Maropeng but the Weber.

The braai, or barbecue as the rest of the world calls it, is not unique to South Africa. Even the Weber, which is the market leader in braais, is an American product. There is no doubt South Africa is trying to define itself in all aspects, including art, culture and business.

The only problem is that we are uncomfortable with our history, which is why we are seeking hope and solutions in empty promises.

The result will be as temporary as wors on a braai – if it stays too long it gets burnt, and tomorrow it is down the toilet.

Heritage is like one’s skin colour: you have to be comfortable with it. Please, don’t waste time this Tuesday burning meat.

Take your children to a museum, Freedom Park, Maropeng or any place that is about our heritage, and start building their self-confidence as the descendants of a people who contributed something to the world.

As a person who works with many young people who are looking for work, I have observed that many young black people are crying out for opportunities

and feel unappreciated and excluded in the companies in which they work.

On the flip side, young white people are walking around with guilt and the feeling that blacks are exacting their revenge through social-engineering programmes like BEE and employment equity.

Young white people are correct to say they have been made to pay for sins they didn’t commit. Black people are also right to say white people didn’t pay enough.

We black South Africans must accept we were defeated at Codesa during the negotiations for a post-apartheid South Africa, and now that we are in power we need to claw our way back to victory.

Quietly, many blacks were worried about a mass exodus of white business and management, but that is happening anyway.

Old Mutual, SAB and Anglo American, to mention but a few, have become offshore businesses.

Many young white people are seeking entry into Australia and the UK.

Understandably, who would want to live in a country where the colour of your skin automatically and erroneously brands you a murderer, a plunderer and a racist?

South Africa erred in the first principles, we should have heeded the wisdom of the founding fathers of the US when Benjamin Franklin said: “Pardoning the bad is injuring the good.”

South Africa should have tried FW De Klerk, his cabinet, generals and all other apartheid perpetrators. This would have branded the guilty and so have freed all other white people who had nothing to do with apartheid.

South Africa is too insecure to do that. The Western world will cry foul and say “another Zimbabwe”.

So the International Criminal Court should help us and charge De Klerk et al because the court has good experience in doing that here in Africa.

No, our heritage must not end up in the smoke of a braai. It should be about peace and justice to all nations.

Our heritage should be summed up in the Apartheid Museum with a picture of FW De Klerk and all perpetrators of apartheid standing trial at The Hague.

»?Muzi Kuzwayo is the mwalimu at Ignitive, an advertising agency

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