‘Unity in diversity’: museum celebrates 100 years

2012-12-17 00:00

A NEW fault line was emerging in South African society, Professor Hayman Russel Botman, rector and vice-chancellor of Stellenbosch University, said yesterday.

This, he said, was “a moral split line that can’t be regulated because this is a line not between people, but within people.” It was a moral split that permitted people to engage in corruption and other evils afflicting South African society.

Botman was the guest speaker at a service held yesterday evening to celebrate the centenary of the Msunduzi Museum (incorporating the Voortrekker Complex) and Ncome Museum held on the Day of Reconciliation.

His theme was “A hundred years on: a reconciling museum”. He said the museum symbolised South Africa’s “unity in diversity” by incorporating the Voortrekker Complex and the Ncome Museum, and by including displays and exhibitions depicting the heritage of various cultural groups in KwaZulu-Natal.

He said the museum represented South Africa’s ability as a nation to strive for reconciliation.

Reviewing the current state of reconciliation, Botman cited last week’s release by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation of its annual Reconciliation Barometer. This found that only a third of South Africans regularly interact across racial lines; and nearly half rarely or never speak to someone of another race.

While the news was not good, Botman said, there was a glimmer of hope: “More than 60% of South Africans believe national unity is desirable … This is a foundation we can build on and one day apartheid will be hearsay.”

He said museums such as the Msunduzi Museum created a space where reconciliation could be built and he called for “courageous conversations” to achieve that reconcilation. “Let us talk this country into its future together.”

After the service a memorial plaque was unveiled. Then those attending the service laid symbolic reconciliation stones

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