Time for honesty

2016-07-27 06:00

THIS year 16 June was the 40th anniversary of the Soweto tragedy and violent unrest of 1976, involving black school children protesting against the use of Afrikaans­ in their schools as a medium of instruction.

The draconian apartheid regime, as it did with those who protested at Sharpeville in March 1960, dealt ruthlessly with any dissent in the form of peaceful process. The brutality of the killings that occurred at Sharpeville and Soweto have left us with an inordinately painful and lasting legacy.

We need both recognition of moral liability by the perpetrators and forgiveness by the victims, resulting in genuine reconciliation, as was demonstrated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

However, as a nation, we are, as a result of our traumatic and tragic past, still in need of profound healing. In this regard, we need to be mercilessly frank.

We need to confront honestly our past and ensure that we are committed and continue with a process of healing, which started with the inception of democracy in 1994.

A profound change in attitude is also essential for the process of healing. Although in the more than 20 years of our democracy significant progress has been made, inter alia, in relation to the provision of social grants, the provision of housing, water, electricity and sanitation, sensitivity to the needs and suffering of the disadvantaged is needed.

There is far too much grumbling by privileged individuals about crime and related problems, formidable as these problems are. We need to be looking and recognising the many good things that are occurring.

If people merely grumble they become part of the problem. If, on the other hand, they contribute by their positive attitude and conduct to solving problems, they begin to build bridges and become part of the solution. This is what is required for healing.

What is desperately needed are attitudes and conduct that reflect a maturity of thought and deed as well as a sensitivity in relation to the current deprivations of those who are struggling because of poverty, homelessness and unemployment.

Our democracy is more than 21 years old, and we as a nation have therefore come of age. We need as a nation and as communities to reflect attitudes of maturity and empathy for the disadvantaged in our country. South Africa and its people have infinite potential.

This is a singular challenge that faces us as a people and by which realisation we can become a winning nation.

We need to rise to the occasion.

GEORGE DEVENISH

Via email

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