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Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .

Hard to find the humanity in these troubled times

By unknown | Mar 05, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

In recent weeks I have repeatedly referred to the slogan of the 2010 World Cup's Local Organising Committee.

In recent weeks I have repeatedly referred to the slogan of the 2010 World Cup's Local Organising Committee.

The reason for the referring to "Ke Nako. Celebrate Africa's Humanity!" is that it is the thread or theme that is going to guide the activities of the committee when mobilising the nation and inviting the world to South Africa.

The adoption of the slogan was an involved process, and the decision to word it this way was to assert Africa and therefore African's humanity, and to get the world to recognise and affirm the very same humanity.

Whereas elsewhere in the world the notion of celebrating humanity could be taken for granted, on this continent the very right to one's humanity has been a matter of life and death for a very long time.

Notwithstanding that history, Africans have been able to develop a practice, a culture that is generally referred to as ubuntu or botho.

This practice says one's humanity can only be affirmed through the acceptance of and respect for the other's humanity.

With this understanding and expectation, it is shocking, embarrassing and disappointing that at this point in our democratic history, we should be having experiences where young people either kill or humiliate others simply because they happen to be black.

Race relations, informed by racism, have always been at the centre of power relations in the history of this country.

The oppression of black people through colonisation and apartheid, the subsequent struggle against apartheid and the installation of democratic rights, human rights and the reconciliation programme championed by former president Nelson Mandela is what South Africa has come to be.

Today, among many other achievements of the democratic and nonracial South Africa, we have been granted the opportunity to host the World Cup in 2010.

Several weeks ago, the nation was shocked to learn that a very poor community was subjected to a callous and murderous shooting spree that left several of their people dead.

The motive? Simply that they were of the wrong colour. The perpetrator? A young man who happens to be white.

Another day, another place. A young man with ambitions to become the next hero in a sport that was previously reserved for whites gets killed by his colleagues during a school rugby practice. A 15-year-old dies for the game he loves because he happens to be of the wrong colour.

Only last week, a video appears showing a group of young men poking fun and basically humiliating people old enough to be their parents in the most despicable manner.

Motive? Because they claim they are opposed to integration in their whites-only student residence at the University of the Free State.

These incidents should shame us all, given our history. Even more embarrassing is the fact that these acts were committed by young people who did not live in the apartheid era.

Another terrible incident that was not widely reported in the media, perhaps because they happen to be black, involved a group of students at Turfloop University beating a fellow student to death for refusing to sing, wait for it, freedom songs.

Utterly shameful and shocking! I did not mean to upset or depress anyone of us by recounting these incidents but they speak of a bigger problem in the psyche that we still have to overcome if we are to be truly liberated of our demons of hatred and violence.

Let us remind ourselves of the ideals that our society is predicated upon and instil these values in our children and the rest of society. Ke nako.


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