A disingenuous argument

2014-01-23 00:00

ACCORDING to our Constitution we are all South Africans, which implies that we are all Africans and are entitled to share in the economic resources of the province and country, as long as it is done according to the rule of law.

One needs only to read and reflect objectively on our country’s history to know that the arguments raised by the Mazibuye African Forum are disingenuous and speak to the ignorance of the movement’s leaders and its supporters. Such stereotypes and negative comments can spark racial discord and community segregation.

To condemn an entire people, based on the surmise that the majority of the people could be racist, is incorrect and borders on hate speech.

It seems the forum does not fully understand the history of Indians in this country, and the role they have played to bring about stability in the economy and dignity and democracy to South Africa. Most Indians have always been comrades of the indigenous people of the land and acted remarkably in defence of universal human ideals.

Together with people of diverse political beliefs and different religious groups, Indians have contributed significantly to the economy, to the liberation struggle and to social welfare.

Exploiting covert preconceptions and the frustrations of the poor to shape a position for the forum as liberators of the poor is unacceptable and selfish.

Agreed, there are inequalities and imbalances in our country, and the ploughing fields are not even. But this is not the fault of the Indians.

Like other affluent communities, the Indians worked hard under some of the harshest and most inhumane conditions to build up their position in the economic and financial world. No freebies were given to them by the apartheid regime.

I acknowledge that South Africa remains plagued by issues of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

So, together with the government, the business class should help the indigenous people to move up the economic ladder and build a better and a united South Africa.

We cannot achieve this by making racial and ignorant statements that could result in instability, leading to civil unrest.

We are the most technologically and infrastructurally advanced nation in Africa. This was made possible only through the effort of all races and groups. Are we now going to be the architects of our own destruction?

In this regard, I would like to introduce the Mazibuye African Forum to a very significant book in which the author relays the story of resistance to apartheid and the struggle for a democratic South Africa.

If there was ever any uncertainty that other communities, individuals or organisations did not play a meaningful role in the struggle against apartheid, the book Foot Soldier for Freedom will dispel that doubt.

Foot Soldier for Freedom: A Life in South Africa’s Liberation Movement, is the life story of an ordinary and very humble woman, Rica Hodgson, who fought against fascism and unjust laws. Among other interesting narratives and realities, Hodgson recollects how she and Maulvi Cachalia, who was a leader of the Transvaal Indian Congress, drove to Cape Town to collect funds for the treason trial, and how the Indian community, as a whole, made generous donations.

Hodgson also describes passionately how she and her friend Amina Cachalia were asked by Nelson Mandela to welcome and play host to the wives of former apartheid presidents at his reconciliation luncheon.

In order to heal from our racist past, and for people to learn to accept each other as equal human beings, we need ongoing dialogue in society on social justice, nation-building and racial reconciliation.

“Ignorance and prejudice are the handmaidens of propaganda,” to quote Kofi Annan.

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