It seems to me that there is an increasing number of black voices demanding an apology from white people for apartheid. I strongly believe that a number of us are aware that we neither need nor want an apology from anyone for that matter.
May I start by saying I am a staunch supporter of apology. A genuine effective apology has power to heal, to make forgiveness possible, restore trust, mend broken relationships and bring divided communities together.
Apology works properly when the guilty party offers it and the wronged accepts. It must lead to reconciliation. In this way apology helps us to look forward. On the hand, a forced, hollow, shallow, disingenuous apology is likely to cause more hurtful feeling and complications. Do I think whites should apologise? Well, my answer is no. Why, because this has already been done. Let me explain.
The Truth and Reconciliation commission was set up to offer the perpetrators a chance to apologise and the victims to accept their apologies. There were also reparations as the victims were compensated by as much as R30 000. More over the wider population were given chance to apologise for their inaction while human rights were being abused. Many people took this chance and apologised even though they were passive bystanders. These apologies were registered in the TRC register of reconciliation To quote just a few entries:
Monday, December 15, 1997 at 18:42:55
‘Along this way I wish to say I am sorry for evading the issue and not doing my bit to stop the SINS of the past by doing more, or for that matter, more. I wish to show my repentance by signing this GREAT effort, and show my faith in the new dispensation. I know it will work. Long live the TRUTH.!!’
Pieter Douwes Sorgdrager, Klerksdorp, SA (TRC reconciliation register, 1997)
Tuesday, December 16, 1997 at 21:16:25
We regret that we did not vociferously express our opposition to Apartheid and lived well while others were in pain.
Ray and Mary Enslin, Port Elizabeth, SA (TRC reconciliation register, 1997)
There thousands more, if you think we need apology try to read this register may be you will realise it is time to move on.
Perhaps the question should be do blacks need an apology from whites for apartheid?
Three weeks ago my niece, in Bloemfontein was assaulted, and spent 14 hours in outpatient department because there were very few doctors in the hospital. If you could ask her what she wanted, I am sure she would not say ‘an apology from a white man’ because that is not what we really need. If you would ask children where there is shortage of qualified teachers what they wanted I am sure it won’t be an apology but education. This is because we do not need an apology. We need economic growth which very much depends on trust within communities. We need reconciliation and national unity to build that trust.
We have driven our talented doctors, nurses, scientists, writers, etc out of the country with this nonsense. Suppose all white people apologised tomorrow, what would change, nothing. So good people let’s start treating one another with dignity and respect.
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