Creating unity in South Africa
THERE was a positive vibe when South Africans gathered in Kliptown, Soweto, to share ideas on how to create unity in the country since many delegates felt such dialogues were long overdue in a country characterised by racial undertones and intolerance.
There appeared to be consensus at the social cohesion summit that the longer the government takes to resolve problems of poverty, unemployment and inequality, divisions along racial lines will persist.
"We kill each other because we're angry with each other, thinking others (whites) are superior. The others are just victims," a delegate, Marilyn Sibiya, said on the sidelines of the summit hosted by the Department of Arts and Culture.
"A summit of this nature is long overdue ... people want this because poverty is biting into them and the answer is social cohesion. All the programmes of development rely on social cohesion.
"We are saying let's know each other, understand each other and cooperate. We can't do that by riding on existing government programmes," Sibiya said.
Other views coming from guests was that as much as the summit could be seen as another "talk shop" of the government, it was in fact a step in the right direction towards realising the South African Dream -- a non-racist, non-sexist, non-discriminatory and prosperous nation.
"I don't think its just a talk shop if you look at policies that have come forth. This thing has been there for a long time," national policing board secretary Kevin Pilay said.
"It didn't start today, it started in 2009. The mere fact that we see different groups of people here shows that there is a concerted effort to make this work."
Department of Justice director-general Nonkululeko Sindane admitted the end result would not necessarily be that everyone's needs will be fulfilled.
"It's impossible ... we can't find everything to make everyone happy. But the summit will have to narrow down the deliverables for this social cohesive project," she said.
In his keynote address President Jacob Zuma highlighted concern over the marginalisation of indigenous languages and the need to promote indigenous knowledge systems.
"Languages must be treated as equal and we must afford them the necessary respect," he sai.
"This is an important step in building an inclusive society that belongs to all who live in it."