I would also like to know, baphi abelungu?

2017-11-05 06:13

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In April, I attended the Save SA march that was held at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg.

Being a veteran of such events, I was pleasantly surprised to see South Africans of all races turn up in numbers to support the cause.

Afterwards, my fellow activists and I had coffee at a nearby mall in Newtown.

We were surrounded by other protesters who were waiting for their Uber rides, proudly sporting placards, slogans and various bits of protest gear.

It was clearly their first outing of this nature and the mood was jubilant, but also quietly proud.

Perhaps because of our DA shirts, people came up to our table spontaneously to chat about their experience.

Fast-forward to the end of August, when I held a DA-led picket outside the Merafong council chamber to compel the municipality to pay its Eskom account.

The event attracted my usual team of enthusiastic and energetic, but mostly black band of activists.

Just before we started, two white members arrived to participate.

It was the first time that they joined a picket, but it was not long before they participated enthusiastically and took their cue from fellow picketers in the dance moves and general picketeering.

Which begs the question that my colleague, Makashule Gana, asked a few weeks ago: “Baphi abelungu?” I also want to know.

Where are my fellow white South Africans when we protest, picket and march for issues that affect our country most severely?

Judging by the turnout at the Black Monday protests, I cannot hide behind the old excuse that whites, Afrikaners in particular, were not brought up to protest in this way or that it is not part of our culture.

Why does it become acceptable to blockade roads and turn out in numbers when we are protesting against farm murders?

I was disappointed that footage showed most other members of our rural communities were not part of the Black Monday blockades.

The impression this creates, be it right or wrong, is that white people only care about issues that affect them and that as white people, we are indifferent to the daily struggles of South Africans outside our race.

Imagine how our uncaring government won’t be able to ignore the people if Black Monday protesters also turn up at the premier’s office to protest the scourge of sexual abuse in schools.

Or if ladies from the SA Vrouefederasie were to show up in support of the victims of the Life Esidimeni tragedy?

We can make our government shake in its boots only if we unite.

Gana was correct when he said this question is being asked only of the DA.

It is the only political party that strives to represent all South Africans and the only party that has a consistent message that condemns all forms of bigotry, but our diversity should be reflected where we turn out in public.

We have a unique opportunity here to provide leadership and hope for a new chapter in our country’s history.

Let us not stop at “clicktivism”, but go on to activism.

By turning up at and participating in ordered and disciplined civil action – the DA way – we can finally activate meaningful reconciliation.

- Cilliers is the DA Gauteng spokesperson for agriculture in the provincial legislature

Read more on:    da  |  eskom  |  save sa

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