Guest Column

More important than ever to keep dreaming of a better South Africa

2018-06-04 08:55
Michael Komape (5) is in 2014 dood toe hy in 'n puttoilet by 'n skool buite Polokwane geval het.

Michael Komape (5) is in 2014 dood toe hy in 'n puttoilet by 'n skool buite Polokwane geval het.

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Sello Hatang

Visiting the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (aka the Lynching Memorial) in Montgomery, Alabama last week left me emotionally numb.

I was made numb not only because of past injustices and imagining the terror felt by the many victims of lynching and their families who knew that once accused, they faced an almost certain death. My numbness came from knowing that the past continues to haunt us in new forms of terror:

Targeted police killings of black people;

slavery in Libya and other places;

women dying at the hands of their partners;


human trafficking;

violent crime; etc.

The visit left me devastated, raw and feeling discouraged knowing all the woundedness we are suffering from as a people. Woundedness that's hardly acknowledged by the perpetrators! Maybe it's not for them to acknowledge that pain but for the victims to keep fighting for a more equal and just world, and the rule of law.

Speaking to American social justice activist Bryan Stevenson reminded me that we cannot afford to stay numb forever. He reminded me that we must all play our part to help society reckon with this difficult past. We must turn into partners who want to see justice realised for old and new victims of all forms of terror.

You can choose to look the other way, to hope that victims will come right without lending a helping hand, without sacrifice. You can choose to be an armchair critic who sees everything wrong with all the efforts of others. A critic who finds others falling short yet doesn't get involved to help them fulfil their mission in life.

I choose to get my hands dirty. To help in any way possible to lift the heavy burden of poverty and inequality from the shoulders of the poor and vulnerable. I choose to keep dreaming.

Dreaming of a country free of the pit latrines that can kill another Michael Komape and Lumka Mketwa.

Dreaming of a country in which Palesa Madiba could have completed her degree at the University of Johannesburg.

Dreaming of a country in which Karabo Mokoena is still alive and free of punches from her partner.

Dreaming of a country in which Andries Tatane is receiving the basic services he needed in his community.

I am a dreamer! I dream of a country that fully supports the rights of the LGBTI community without fear of death and mockery.

I dream of health workers fighting for their right to fair wages whilst respecting the rights of patients to receive care.

I dream of the disabled being fully supported and accommodated in their daily lives.

These names and stories remind me that hope is not enough without hard work.

Courage and bravery are not enough without thoughtfulness and help from others. Solidarity remains key to changing our society.

We all have a role to play. Victims of injustice do not have the time to wait.




- Hatang is Chief Executive Officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    michael komape  |  karabo mokoena  |  equality

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