First lady: ‘We must not forget our past’

2010-03-26 00:00

WE remember the violence in KwaZulu-Natal during the traumatic period of 1987 to 1994, not to apportion blame, but to heal and to reconstruct, said first lady of the province, Dr May Mashego-Mkhize.

Mkhize was the keynote speaker yesterday at the opening of a two-day conference on the violence, organised by the Msunduzi Museum. She said that parents are not telling their children about the history of the liberation struggle and that when she meets young people she realises that most of them don’t know what happened.

These stories need to be told said Mkhize, to avoid history repeating itself as it did in the recent xenophobic attacks. “We are seeing the catastrophic effects of racism, policies that were engineered in state offices,” the first lady added.

She said the appalling effect of these policies remains in the silence around the abuse of women and children. “We hear of the rape of children and we keep quiet and don’t report it. South Africa needs to wake up. We know that evil triumphs when good people keep quiet.”

Mkhize called for the strengthening of moral commitment of both communities and government. She said there needs to be education and research around the violence and “we need to commemorate the dead and respect the living”. She also called for communities to take ownership of remembrance projects. “I visited Cuba and there in every village there are bronze statues of liberation heroes. I asked my hosts ‘how do you do this and were do you get the money?’. They said the money came from the community and those who had no money contributed their labour,” she said.

The first lady said survivors of violence are true heroes of humanity because they have found the courage to go on. She said municipalities where the violence took place should pay special heed to the survivors because many have not escaped extreme poverty.


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