The long walk to the promised land

2018-05-13 05:56


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

It is important to have difficult conversations as a country. The DA recently had important and robust engagements on diversity and now white privilege.

The historical imperatives that have influenced current-day South Africa must be viewed in the context of why changes must occur and whether such changes can influence the lives of those who were once downtrodden in the most heinous manner imaginable.

That race was largely the influencing factor for us to confront such changes is not by accident. Race was perhaps the base reason we languish in a mire of mistrust and retarded progress after 24 years of freedom and democracy.

The question of diversity – and its attendant drawbacks, where applicable and in the racial context – has raised the ire of some who might not comprehend or fail to realise that while we strive for unity in diversity, the reality remains that diversity must be seen to happen literally so that mindsets are integrated into a new paradigm that becomes ultimately necessary.

The furore that has ensued as a result of DA leader Mmusi Maimane addressing aspects of “white privilege” and “black poverty” could seemingly be construed as racially divisive, but it is not. It is a necessary evil that must be addressed without fear or favour. The disquietude in some quarters gives the impression that this may be discordant with how the DA approaches its policies on diversity. But the DA firmly believes that it is the diversity of the country that lends impetus to the fact that unless we confront this issue head-on, we will forever be in transition of viable and workable solutions.

White privilege and black poverty are not mutually exclusive – in fact, they represent the very reason we have to address the matter in its totality for they are the veridical facts of why South Africa lags in progress.

Depending on one’s vantage point and background, each of these concepts may either be a stumbling block or a stepping stone to ensure South Africa heads towards being a nation of equals or reinforces the fact that we are one of the unequal societies in the world.

It is without doubt that apartheid foisted many disamenities upon the black population who suffered most by the inequities created as a result.

Every aspect of the life of black South Africans was steeped in prejudice, removing them from the social, economic and educational mainstream.

We cannot ignore the influences of the past if we are to look ahead. It was as a result of such influences that we have created our current unequal society, paradoxically, in the name of freedom and democracy. White privilege and black poverty are an internecine cocktail destined to stifle progress and development if we allow them to fester unchecked or allow stagnation as a result of apathy.

White businesses, for example, have thrived by virtue of privilege. There was no sudden change in post-1994 that indicated past privileges were not manifest in the new South Africa. If anything, it reinforced both the perception and the reality that South Africa did not leave the starting blocks as anticipated.

By wanting to ensure that diversity is reflective of our population does not mean that we forsake the concept of meritocracy simply to satisfy equality just because of demographics.

It means we reinvent or recreate a system for those whose lifelines to economic growth and social development were so unceremoniously removed by the act of a pen.

Of course the treacherous path in trying to reconcile what was and what will be might be uncomfortable and almost unpalatable to those who have enjoyed unfair privilege as a result of the past. But if we remain dormant and do not address such issues, we run the risk of further entrenching inequality and place even more hindrances in the way of a truly unfettered and progressively equal society.

The DA is a diverse political organisation but this diversity will be a strength only if we choose to make it so.

There will be sacrifices that will have to be made which will disillusion some people – it may lead to anger and discontent. But as responsible leaders we are obliged to challenge those who refuse to admit or, even on principle, concede that the dichotomy between white privilege and black poverty is a living reality that has its roots way before 1994.

Change is difficult at the best of times – it might be disconcerting, it might be construed as destabilising or a forerunner to uncomfortable confrontations. But, lest we forget, change is what brought us to that glorious day in April 1994.

It then became onerous upon those who chose to lead that such a change had to be pursued further – reinvented at times or remoulded – redefined where necessary, and any reticence or fear had to be allayed because of the prevailing realities.

I believe this country, which undoubtedly belongs to all those that live in it, has the potential to transcend even the pettiest of differences and the strongest walls of resistance to lead us to the promised land where black and white can live side by side in harmony, prosperity and as brothers and sisters who share a common history that once divided us but has now reunited us.

- Mncwango is KwaZulu-Natal DA leader and member of the provincial legislature


Can we transcend the pettiest of differences and the strongest walls of resistance to make SA great? SMS us on 35697 using the keyword DIVERSITY and tell us what you think. Please include your name. SMSes cost R1.50

Read more on:    da  |  transformation  |  race

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.