Whites missed their opportunity to apologise

2015-03-22 15:00

Generosity of spirit and goodwill vibrated throughout South Africa after liberation from apartheid. With high hopes for reconciliation, it seemed acceptable to tolerate monuments of past oppressors as historical artefacts.

The invitation for reconciliation that was extended to us as individuals and collectively in white society, implored us to:

.?Acknowledge the dehumanising choices we made as apartheid actors, bystanders and beneficiaries.

.?Remain present in the face of suffering caused, and endure facing the shame of our deeds and omissions.

.?Mourn our failings and our own dehumanisation.

.?Apologise with deepest sincerity to our black neighbour, and collective black society.

.?Take massive reparative action rather than fragmented individual engagements that remain mostly invisible to black society.

We have not done nearly enough. We have not even made a dent. Today, we as white society owe even more.

For the most part, we remain frozen like deer in the headlights by guilt, shame, silence, denial and resentment – except, we are not innocent.

Today, black society, more impatiently now and with increasing frustration, is still waiting for us to show up, to honour the gift of sparing us a blood bath and destruction.

Today, the Rhodes statue looms large and provocative as the symbol of our moral failings and paralysis.

The voices who are asking for this and other apartheid-hero statues to be torn down shame us. We had been given a chance to build bridges across our societal divide. We have missed the opportunity and now face anger, wrath and rejection.

Elke Geising

Fish Hoek

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