We must speak about it, we must Mfundo radebe

2016-02-16 06:00


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Late last year, I had the privilege of being enacted as a Young Social Cohesion Advocate by the Minister of Arts and Culture, the Honourable Nathi Mthethwa.

Of course I was very excited to take on the challenge of helping in the ushering of a new era in South Africa where all people live in a non-racial, non-sexist, and non-classist society.

I thought it would be relatively easy you know—propose some dialogue here, give a few talks at the ‘grassroots level’, you get the picture.

Then 2016 happened. The country had already witnessed a few incidents of racism the previous year, but as 2016 began, the challenge became even greater as front-runners such as Penny Sparrow and company began to dominate the media.

South Africans became angry. Regardless of where you came from, you had your opinion on the Sparrow saga. Once again race had become plainly divisive, as it had for many years in this country.

When I made my way back home in the mini-bus taxi one day, everybody had their fair-share of comment, mostly very negative.

“Wooo, white people will never love us,” said one lady as they laughed off the hysteria that became Penny Sparrow’s supposed defence on Metro FM.

We were losing the battle of social cohesion we thought we were succeeding in.

So we met as the Social Cohesion Advocates in urgency in Sandton to actualise the National Social Cohesion Action Plan—a tangible solution that seeks to promote nation building as is outlined in Outcome 14 of the National Development Plan.

In the background were the words “Not in My Name” boldly proclaiming not only the committee and government’s position on racism, but really the entire country’s.

Beyond the fact that we had actually gathered to finalise this critical document and roll it out for the betterment of South Africa, it was the discussion that came from that meeting that was so intriguing.

Here I was sitting with such a diverse group of people accomplished in different industries and they all admitted that we had failed.

For far too often we have told ourselves that we are a rainbow nation that has healed from the injustices of the past. That is quite far from the truth.

That is our target as a people, but we are far from achieving it. Tears emanated from this meeting and people’s voices showed vigour. This was a first for me—to sit amongst such a diverse group and be able to reflect on our country’s state and most importantly to collaborate and find practical solutions for solving this problem we are facing.

That’s what we need. We need to realise as a people that a blind refusal of talking about race in our society does not promote our “Unity in diversity”; it threatens it.

We need to talk about practical solutions at engaging the entire country in the conversation.

I look forward to my journey as a Young Social Cohesion Advocate, not only because I will be able to give young people a voice in a problem that will largely affect them, but because I get to truly witness a nation being built.

· I am a national debate champion, international speaking and writing champion and will be making my way to Harvard in August. You can find me on Facebook.

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