The seeds of home grown charity is yet to flower and bear fruits

2014-09-06 10:48

What I am penning about is about our,perceived or real, shortcomings. We are aware of it, but we either do not wish to speak of it openly,or we are in a state of apathy or denial or both apathy and denial.

I pen these concerns in the context of growling anti "Indian" perceptions being knitted together into belief through rabidly racist groups such as the Mazibuye African Forum and rendered through the medium of songs by the AmaCde and through plays by playrights such as Mbongeni Ngema. And yes, there have been an editorial or two as well.

Let me clear the air

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Pertinently there are no Indians in South Africa. Shocked? Permit me to explain.

There are citizens of Indian extraction who, born and bred in South Africa are by that birthright South Africans and so for the sake of expediency as in the US people of African origin are referred to as "Afro Americans" or African Americans, I prefer for the sake of discussion the nomenclature "SafrIndians".

Oh yes, there are Indian nationals, that is citizens of India who are guests in South Africa given the geo-political and economic relationships our two countries enjoys.

The challenge to SafrIndians

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I am aware of the millions of dollars Muslim charities engage in countries and charitable causes overseas as well as on the African continent. I am also aware of the contributions Muslims make, through NGOs such as the Africa Muslim Agency (founded, together with others, by my late friend and contemporary Mahommed Fareed Choonara), The Gift of the Givers Foundation and the Al Imdaad Foundation. And,yes individuals like Razak Moosa, SH Mia, and AV Mahomed (the latter who celebrated fifty years as a community leader in the charitable field) who together with Vivian Reddy take up the slack when action is required in moments of crisis in South Africa.

The media, printed and electronic, have made tepid,alternatively half hearted attempts to plug the mis-perceptions through publications but they have not interrogated those whose racist agendas dredge up memories of the 1949 riots, many of whose survivors are still around as reminders of that dreadful era and the run up to a massacre that received active acquiescence of the powers in charge at the time. But....

But this is not what my op-ed is about or aiming at. If you care to read on, you will learn what it is about. I have already fired the first salvo in the opening paragraph of this blog piece.

Onto the topic

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The social and printed media provide blogging and editorial platforms such as this to provide a wider footprint and access into domains that are otherwise inaccessible .

You may have not have accessed printed media as yet but the fact you are reading this on a social media blog supports my point.

My appeal is not confined to the captains of industry but to all caring and compassionate South Africans .

My purpose, therefore, is to ascertain though this platform what is behind this "anti-Indian" perception and to, through robust engagement and discussion, find out whether or not there is a disconnect between perception and reality and how best to re-establish that connection that hitherto subsisted prior to 1994.

It is of concern because, if this perception feeds into the reality of economic challenges we are currently facing ( we are actually on the ledge of a recession) supplemented by over 27% unemployment and poverty across South Africa, we could well be looking at a scenario reminiscent of the Rwandan holocaust sometimes in the not distant future. Very often failures by government through incompetence and mis-governance set the stage for such tragedies and we are getting s glimpse of this through the over 800 service delivery unrests that have so far occurred these past twelve months.In Germany, centuries of anti-semitism crept into the thinking of educated and cultured Germans who turned against a tainted but well educated and self sufficient minority leading up to the Holocaust. If you think is a hype, I urge you to read Daniel Goldhagen's "Hitler's Willing Executioners".

How do good people turn evil? Philip Zimbardo's scholarly anatomy of human nature and contemporary culture entitled "The Lucifer Effect" ( a 2007 publication) is no bed time reading as it is a scary account of how these perceptions incubate in each individual and no one is immunised therefrom. It screams out to be read and studied as I have. True, as one Zionophile Don Karusz wrote in a letter to the Sunday Independent on 15.6.2008 "Human being's aren't born hating".

I have read Adam Habib's "South Africa's Suspended Revolution:Hopes and Prospects"(a 2014 publication)in tandem with John H Saul's "The Next Liberation Struggle (a 2005 publication) and Duncan Green's "From Poverty to Power" ( a 2008 publication) and even though they don't talk about the role that minorities have to play, I could not delink that message as I interpreted the arguments woven into the narrative of each author.

Conclusion

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People cannot travel through life with eyes wide shut. I do not believe that human beings are born hating.During my daily travails I see children of all creeds walking to school. I see and interact with South Africans of all shades of colour.

How do we prevent the "lucifer effect" that Phillip Zimbardo warns us about? In my opinion, through active shared compassion and caring. Charity is its visible manifestation.

Safrindians are a caring and humane society. This hatred that is being propagated is a cause of concern and needs deep introspection.

It seems to me that the seeds of home grown charity and goodwill have yet to flower and bear fruits .

Maybe I am wrong and I stand corrected but this nagging feeling of a disconnect between perception and reality is being nourished by rabidly racists and in this context we, SafrIndians,must of needs interrogate.

Saber Ahmed Jazbhay

6.9.2014

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