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
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
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
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
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.
of us will be truly free until there is forgiveness.
is quite simple.
So just say it. Say you are sorry.
that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela simply forgave
you even before you said it.
of him, and our Black brethren, your language, customs and culture, stand
If you think you can do it, or think you can't
do it, you are right
Now if Lead SA really wants to do something
worthwhile … … … it needs to find a way to get our White brethren to
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".
disagreed saying South Africa had long moved past all this.
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".
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".
She needs to
come back and lead a national program of reconciliation.