Khaya Dlanga

Terre'Blanche death a wake-up call

2010-04-06 08:47

Terre'Blanche is dead. Who cares? You should.

"Eugene Terre'Blanche was not an easy man to love. In many ways he made it easy for people to hate him - and for those who did to justify their hatred for him. After all, how can you love an angry man? A man who wanted to have a separate land for him and for those who look like him?"

"Eugene Terre'Blanche was an easy man to love. In many ways he made it easy for people to love him - and for those who did to justify their love for him. After all, how could you not love this angry man? A man whose justifiable anger looked out for the interests of his own people?"

These were always the polarised views people had about him. They either hated him or loved him. He was also reduced to nothing but bufoonery. But as buffoons go, he caused enough havoc, especially before the 1994 elections.

Strangely, and perhaps morbidly, there is something to benefit from the passing of Eugene Terre'Blanche. A wake up call. The events of the past weekend tell us that South Africa has not yet healed. How could we? We've only been free of apartheid for 16 years. The rainbow nation is fractured. The colours live uneasily next to each other because we thought that over time the wounds would take care of themselves without tending to them.

One does not need to be a prophet to see what could happen if we don't take care. We need to be pragmatic. That is all. We cannot afford to respond to the easy emotionalism that leads to actions that satisfy for a short period.

Nothing to do with death

In many ways, the reaction to Terre'Blanche's death really has nothing to do with him dying. Nor has it anything to do with the manner in which he died. It was not about an Afrikaner farmer who was killed on his farm. Nor was it about the murder of an irrelevant leader of a far Right Wing organisation - he may have been irrelevant, but what could happen is far from irrelevant. For a brief moment after we heard he was dead we realised that we are not there yet. Nowhere near.

The truth is bitter. It is a pill that must be swallowed by the patient regardless. We need each other. Those who need the other especially are those who say we do not need the other. Those who still hope for anarchy between black and white have another think coming. We have way too much to lose as a country and far too much to gain to allow the anarchists to win.

We can sit back and pretend that everything is hunky dory. It isnt. We can appeal to our fears; which are easily exploited through inciting people via inflammatory statements. We can pretend that the words we use have no effect at all. We can do all those things, but we have to be willing to take the blame when the flames we've been fanning catch up with us.
Or we can choose to speak to people's hopes. We all have the same hopes in South Africa, rich or poor, black or white, farmer or farm worker. We want water, decent jobs, we want to feel safe wherever we go in our country. These are basic wants. These are the hopes we should appeal to, not the easy rhetoric some of our leaders are prone to. It is easy to incite people. Anyone can incite people but not everyone can lead them through difficult times. Who amongst our leaders will stand up to reassure those who live in fear?

Rise beyond expectations

I believe that we will decide to pick ourselves up and rise beyond expectations. We will do what South Africans do the impossible. We don't do easy. I know we will choose the hard right thing to do over the easy wrong. We are a great people. We don't do easy. Who, by doing that which was easy became great?

We are not choosing easy, we are choosing the hard thing. That of building even though it is hard. Waking up every morning saying that it is hard but I want to leave future generations a country I am proud of.

I will end off by echoing one of my favourite quotes by Martin Luther King Junior where he warns against acting when it is too late. We cannot afford to pretend there are no warning sings. They are there. If we act slowly, we might be too late.

"We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: 'Too late.' There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. 'The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on...'"

We still have a choice today. These words are as true today as when Martin Luther King Junior said them. What will we do?

Follow me on twitter but I won't lead you anywhere.

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