A time for healing and tolerance

2008-10-28 00:00

In our country there is a lot of discussion within certain sections of society on how long we should blame apartheid for South Africa’s ills. They say we should just get over it. However, unlike those favoured by history because of race or those who were dealt a lucky hand in the new BEE dispensation, the majority of South Africans remain in dire straits. Forty-eight years of damage cannot be repaired in 14 years.

Yes, the victim mentality is debilitating and people should sort themselves out, but there are things to consider before making blanket statements. Our infant democracy presented a situation where some started from zero, others from seven and others from a negative seven, all aiming for 10 in the journey to seek their fortune. Solutions are available although they are disputed, but for now let us ponder on the reality.

Think of the political rallies, the articulate speeches and the political commentary the masses digest. How adept is the public at digesting their daily bread when they have yet to produce milk teeth as a democratic society? This means that the deprivation of a good education has wider reaching implications than the “stop blaming apartheid” section of South Africa wants to believe. The language spoken by our leaders is not something that lay South Africans can grasp.

Let us look at what makes a good school without getting statistical about it. According to Erin Knight in her online article “Elements of a good education”: “A confident, well-rounded adult is the product of a good education. The word education doesn’t necessarily mean formal studies and a university degree. A good education provides a child with an understanding of proper morals, ethics and manners.” Are the majority of South Africans getting a good education?

Anybody with a sense of historical consciousness knows that the education system was inadequate and still is on many levels. Couple that with the disruption of cultural norms and you have at least two generations of adults who were not in a mental, financial and social position to foster the growth of contextual knowledge and discipline in their children. So the real question is, do they have the same disposition as those who had it better? In human resource management studies there are three words that are drummed into students — knowledge, skills and attitude. Knowledge and skills are, to an extent, certainly being catered for, but how much work is being done on attitudes.

The point is not to add to the already festering “blame the whites” attitude, but to ask that we understand each other. Even educated blacks show frustration with less educated, poorly educated or uneducated South Africans.

Global media show the worst of black people in abundance, whether it is in sitcoms, on the news or in music videos. There is self-hatred caused by alienation, which is caused by an inability to crack the codes of modern-day living.

Expectations have not been managed well enough by both sides. As a new nation we ex-pected certain things from the government and it seems to have expected certain things from us. So we all tend to give each other the evil eye and talk under our breath because we are still shell shocked and fear recourse for betraying our democracy, should we not agree with certain elements of the status quo.

Leaders seem to focus on the one half of our dual economy when addressing the masses and it is blatantly obvious that the democratic South Africa has less pressure on it to treat the poor better than the previous system had.

We are free to be successful and free to suffer but we mostly have the ability to suffer. It is too cold a world for us to see the greenness of the grass on the other side. We need to agree that we are fighting to cure the ills of apartheid in unison and be a little more understanding.

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