As we emerge from the ghettos of our past

2015-02-06 10:01

As a Muslim by faith, I was fortunate,during my formative years to have had a fairly varied cultural and religious experience.

I was born and bred in Warwick Avenue area in Durban, a multicultural and for quite a while until the Group Areas Act dispossessed us, multi-racial location and I was brought up in the home of a Tamil. I fire-walked, ate sour porridge, fasted when it became necessary in the Tamil culture. I lit the lamp and stood in prayer religiously. I participated in their functions. I remained a Muslim enriched by all this. My Hindu,Tamil and Christian brethren reading this will easily identify with this.

During Easter and Christmas, I spent time with Christians. During the religious month Muharram in the Islamic calendar , my Tamil,Gujerathi and Hindu friends joined in the religious festivities. All this made me strong and wise.

To find out where we went wrong one could very easily blame apartheid and the Group Areas Act that uprooted communities, for verily we became scatterlings and prey to its prophets.

But the answer did not lie there. That is not the reason. Apartheid was an aberration but it cannot be blamed. The blame lies in us.

As apartheid began to crumble in bits and pieces and we moved towards freedom and democracy, internal forces kept our insularism intact. We forgot who we were, and conditioned by history to think and act in compartments, we continued and still continue to look at our neighbour as ‘the other’ if he was not in our compartment.

We chose to educate ourselves to evolve, but to remain in those compartments, occasionally breaching them for cosmetic purposes. When apartheid uprooted us, we also got uprooted from ourselves. We became sophisticated in ‘ghettoisation’ thinking.

We still are but slowly, inexorably emerging from our ghettos..........

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