SA's future imprisoned by its unacknowledged past - Mamphela Ramphele

2016-09-16 08:02
Dr Mamphela Ramphele during her lecture at Stellenbosch University. (Tammy Petersen)

Dr Mamphela Ramphele during her lecture at Stellenbosch University. (Tammy Petersen)

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Stellenbosch - South Africa needs to acknowledge that 22 years into democracy, society remains wounded, Mamphela Ramphele said on Thursday.

"The future we aspire to is imprisoned by our unacknowledged past," the activist and former politician said at the annual e'Bosch Prestige Lecture held at Stellenbosch University.

"Is it now time to sit down again to dare to acknowledge the dream of 1994 is fading into the darkness of our despair. Like all heritage, the 1994 dream is being contested and in some spaces denounced as a sellout."

People like Nelson Mandela are accused by some of having let white people get away with murder, symbolic and actual, she said.

"The contestations of 1994 stem from our failure to acknowledge that our diverse heritage was purchased at a heavy cost. It requires an emotional settlement deal."

'We carry scars'

This will be attained through conversation and talking about the past and what divides society, she said.

"We need to sit down and tell each other the stories by which we have lived, including the last 22 years.

"Abuses of human rights and [colonialism], including slavery and economic exploitation wounded both black and white people. These abuses fractured the eternal connectedness between us. We carry those scars in our bodies, souls, minds."

Such facilitated conversations would enable injustice to be acknowledged and for forgiveness to be sought and given, Ramphele said. 

"Forgiveness is guaranteed within the Ubuntu framework. Both the wrongdoer and the wronged will benefit from the reconnection that follows. 

"It's not a favour – it's a requirement to re-establish that connection. They can then see themselves in each other as people.

"We need to go back to those conversations avoided in the 1990s."

Ramphele's lecture formed part of the e'Bosch heritage project, an initiative by the Stellenbosch University and municipality launched in 2012 which aims to unite the divided communities in Stellenbosch through debate and special projects. 

Read more on:    mamphela ramphele  |  cape town

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