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Racialism? Or not...

11 March 2014, 07:13

1994 was seen as a year for bridging the great divide, in that what was once an instrument of oppression and dehumanising blacks or anyone who was not regarded as a Deutschland descendant or at least English would ultimately be destroyed. Efforts by the TRC to reconcile the victim with the perpetrator could be seen as a turning point at healing the inborn or learnt hatred and intolerance of black man towards a white man. The constitution seeks to offer a basis for the establishment of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. What elements in addressing non-racialism and promote honest dialogue among South Africans? What are the key players in the redress process?

In its struggle against colonial oppression, African oppressed people and their national movements grapple with the question of how to restore the erstwhile dignity of the people and community spirit characteristic of African society. In the case of the African National Congress of South Africa, the issue of nation-formation and nation building - as a continued and unresolved challenge in what it called the National Democratic Revolution.

Dignity to all South Africans was a given after the apartheid regime. South has made progress in extending access to basic needs and services such as education and housing. Despite theoretical progress since 1994, South Africa still remains unequal, segregated by class and race in most instances of the society and the economy. Being one the most unequal societies in the world, the privilege attached to race, class, space has not been reversed. Skewed opportunities continue to reinforce inequality of opportunity. which is still defined by race, gender, geographical location and class. The Bill of Rights states that all South Africans are equal before the law. Yet in practice, people experience the law differently. Upper middle-class households are often better served by municipal, provincial and national government than their working-class counterparts.

Drivers of social cohesion can be transformation, rehabilitation of human dignity, social and economic development of previously disadvantaged individuals, and quality education. Social cohesion has received considerable attention by many countries and has become a

major issue in government policies and programmes. The reasons for the South African concern relates to deterioration of a sense of nationhood at many levels, including historical conditions and legacies of the past. But some of the more general reasons are that: societies have become more diverse, the process of economic globalization introduce new social pressures and inequalities, social and economic exclusion discrimination and inequality, lack of access to public services, racism and discrimination, marginalization and exclusion on the grounds of culture, migration and globalization, the question “what keeps society” together becomes all the more salient.

Section 29 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa talks about “...the right to education.”, which should aptly rephrased as “...the right to quality education.” The school should be designed such it empowers the learners, producing in the inquiring minds-people who question and challenge vehemently any act of prejudice every time. Syllabi should be design with mainstream democratic values in the curriculum. Learners from disadvantaged backgrounds and those from leafy suburbs should be educated so as to realise and appreciate that success in one’s life should depend on their choices, efforts and talents, not their circumstances at birth.

Armed with a tertiary education a child born in poverty can help alleviate it by helping out his sibling(s). This in effect could have a snowballing effect in the long run. Social inclusion could be seen as a necessary condition for achieving a high level of cohesion, and therefore, all members of society, regardless of their race, sex, belief, or class are to participate within public affairs and processes. Implementing a rural development strategy that aims at empowering the unskilled or unlettered farmers ensuring job creation through land reform and developing industries. Even a meagre wage goes a long way in rehabilitating human dignity.

Transformation is roused by reducing poverty and inequality through broadening opportunity for all. Quality education and skills training play a major role in tackling poverty. The principles of depolarizing classes by race or income could be to deracialise the rural economy, democratic and equitable land allocations and use across race and class. In essence quality education stimulate social and economic development which inspire rehabilitation of human dignity, which in turn rouses transformation by deracialising the economy. This will charismatically enhance association-a precursor to social cohesion at all levels-if there are any, and dialogue would be spurred on without it being taboo or nontopical. On the other hand xenophobic attacks and vigilantism show how broken the society is. What kind of intervention is necessary to cure this societal ulcer? How deep are the wounds of racialism? How will active involvement of the previously disadvantaged in the economy curb the scourge of lawlessness?

Equal opportunities regardless of race are essential in addressing issues of racialism. Deracialising the economy would be catalytic in social and economic development of communities. Strife for quality education which seeks to produce people who question and challenge prejudice at its slightest emergence. Government should make provision for quality basic and tertiary education aimed at attempting to equalize the fragmented society, and study racialism at all levels: interpersonal, group, national, interactional, ideological,

cultural and institutional so as to limit its scope of impact, and thus promoting  in depth and honest discourse over racial matters without fearing to cross the line or step on it.

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