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The Pope, The Australians, the Japanese all said it --- so just say it

11 January 2012, 07:51

This is a humble appeal to Lead SA which is brilliant as a concept with enormous potential.

However, Lead SA”s appeals to South Africans “to be good boys and girls” has little chance of success until certain fundamental issues are first addressed. Quite simply, we are in no position to be responsive to such appeals … as a society … as a nation … if we are a nation?

As much as we may wish to ignore it, present day South Africa is a mirror image of its apartheid predecessor; at a fundamental level.

In both models a preoccupation with linking rights, privileges and attitude to race, ethnicity and skin colour is at the heart of things.

The difference is only that the apartheid government was up front and brutal in its stance. Now we all supinely play a massive game of “pretend” under various sloganslike “rainbow nation” and “proudly South African”.

We do this even though racism is rampant. I have personally experienced the most pernicious forms of racism from White and Black. I am also fully aware of many other instances, particularly as regards the work place. More importantly though, is that there is a widespread perception that inequality is buttressed and driven by subsisting racism.

Still, like the sheep on “Animal Farm” we sing out these slogans even though they have little relationship to reality. What exactly is there to be “proud of”? We have the most unequal society in the world. Over two (2) million households are headed by children. Over 40 people are murdered every day. A woman or child is raped every minute. All the participants in the Brett Kebble murder have walked … whilst we prosecute children for having sex! The list is endless.

Here is the thing. I believe that nearly all South Africans know in their hearts that we are simply not a united “rainbow nation” and that there is simply little to be “proud of”. I think we know that we have this veneer of normality to mask pretty horrid abnormality.

A nation can never feel proud of itself until it is made up of a populace in which hearts beat as one. That is the fundamental thing that has to be in place before anything else that is positive takes root.

I believe that, whatever may be mouthed by those who benefit from the current state of affairs, the silent majority instinctively “knows” that things are simply wrong … that we should really be together as a people … as a nation … but we are not. We are miles apart in mind, body and soul.

So what to do?

Let us cast our minds back to that day in 1995, when Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela donned the Springbok jersey, and brought a whole nation together, led by some 30, 000 tearfully happy “Boers” in the stands. This was a verysimple act on his part. It had incredible utility; and for a long while we started getting there as a nation …

Cast our minds back to a more recent moment; when the Currie Cup final was settled by almost exclusively White rugby teams in Soweto, an almost exclusively Black suburb. We, the silent majority, felt a moment of quiet exaltation. It was so good. The interactive radio stations were bombarded with expressions of simple joy, mouthed by so many ordinary Black folk, part of that silent majority … who really would like things to be different.

Earlier we had all been numbed and dumb struck as the extremist lobby played out their racist hatred at the time Eugene Terblanche was murdered. Newspapers lamented how divided the Nation was.

Now the simple business of Whites coming to settle something that is so precious to them (the Whites) on Black turf made us feel united … just for a moment. This most precious thing accrued because Black people read so much into the gesture … quite asimple gesture in itself … like Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela donning the Springbok jersey in 1995 … They saw it as a change of heart!

It is obvious … blindingly obvious … that another simple thing is outstanding … long outstanding …

White people have  simply never said “sorry” … sorry; not for the evil system of apartheid … but for how they treated Black folk at a personal level … with unkindness … with cruelty … with contempt … at every turn … at every opportunity …

and let others do it … before their eyes … within their hearing … and said nothing … and did nothing … just like the Germans did …

Now we wonder why a firebrand like Julius Malema and his “kill the Boer” rhetoric strikes a chord with so many.  We wonder why Black folk vote on racial lines never mind what. We wonder why someone like Mugabe finds favour with so many. This list is also endless.

The hearts of the silent majority, mainly Black, simply do not beat as one. They cannot. There is a simple unresolved issue. No one has ever said “sorry”.

The TRC had limited utility in that it provided a mechanism for most Whites to distance themselves from the “real baddies”; thus glossing over the terrible “badness" that they indulged in daily … as a matter of course … as the prerogative of a superior race …

You cannot hurt someone and then expect that you are forgiven … that all is forgotten … that your hearts now beat as one … when you have not said sorry. 

The fact that you have not said it indicates that you are not sorry.

The other acts of racism, which still abound, confirm that you are not sorry. 
The Reitz 4 saga brings all this into sharp relief.

The gross inequality, still subsisting, drives the point home.

It is as simple as that. We can’t deny it or wish it away. It is a matter of reality that we all know accords with simple human nature. It’s the way we are made up as human beings. You cannot hurt another human being so emphatically and imagine that it issimply going to go away. It is with us … blighting so many hearts … keeping us apart.

So this is an appeal to all White South Africans to now say “sorry” to our Black brethren. Those Coloured, Indian and Chinese folk that were implicated should join in.

Now please just do it … at the shopping centre … in the street … in the workplace … in farm yards ... on campuses ... at schools on behalf of parents … at gala dinners … using a banner before a sports fixture … wherever … whenever … it really does not matter … be as imaginative and/or as resourceful as you like. What is important is that you all do it.

As said, be imaginative, e.g, look a Black person in the eyes and say “I am truly sorry for what I did, what we did, to you as Black people, for the disrespect, the unkindness, the cruelty, talking to your father as if he was an umfaan, looking at you as if you are not human, and all the other things. I am sorry it has taken so long. Please forgive me. I now see you with clear eyes and ask you to soften your heart, as hard as it is … to make space for me and my kind”.

Of cause there will be those who will poo pooh the thing. No matter. You don’t need anyone’s approval to do what is right.

And yes you will be even rebuffed. No matter … this will only prove how hurt and traumatized Black folk were by the cruelty.

Pious statements will be made about “opening old wounds”. Do you believe for one moment that the “old wounds” were ever healed?

Ask yourself just one question – are you sorry? If you are, why have you not said it?

When you discuss this with yourself … and others, pose this question and answer first. Then recall that the Pope has said sorry for the pedophile priests … for theVatican looking the other way during the Holocaust. East Germany has said sorry to the Jews. Australia has done the same as regards the Aborigines. The US has said sorry to Native Americans. So have the Japanese as regards the Chinese. This list is long. If you are sorry, you say it.

Forgiveness will not come easy … it will not be an event. It is rare that a heart will heal at a stroke.

However, let us join in believing that the majority of Black folk will be touched. What cannot be denied is that this gives you the best chance of touching them.

Forgiveness will follow … in the majority of hearts. Then … and only then will we have a chance of becoming one nation seeing, sharing and resolving our problems as one.

None of us will be truly free until there is forgiveness. 

It is quite simple. So just say it. Say you are sorry.

Remember that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela simply forgave you even before you said it.

Because of him, and our Black brethren, your language, customs and culture, stand preserved.
If you think you can do it, or think you can't do it, you are right
Henry Ford
Now if Lead SA really wants to do something worthwhile … … … it needs to find a way to get our White brethren to accept this

Post Script

At 17H55, on 6 Dec 2010, the day after the above blog post, Radio 702 host asked if listeners agreed with a certain Steve Hofmeyr that the shooting in the head of a White child by a Black was racially motivated. Two Whites phoned in to say it was. One alluded to Julius Malema's "shoot the Boer" rant. The other said "Africans" were bent on killing "Europeans". 

The host disagreed saying South Africa had long moved past all this. 

A Black female then phoned in to say that "Whites should realize that they are reaping what they sowed under apartheid". When challenged she insisted that "the chickens are coming home to roost".

Further Post Script

I want to ask where can Zola Budd be found. You see this barefooted stripling of an Afrikaner girl, despite the evil of apartheid, somehow managed to touch and melt the hearts of our Black brothers and sisters. They spoke of her with tears in their eyes. I think her small frame mirrored their own vulnerability. I think her barefootedness said to them "I am an African".

They loved her deeply.

She needs to come back and lead a national program of reconciliation.

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