Thu Oct 27 13:06:34 SAST 2016


By unknown | Apr 09, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THIS week marks the 16th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda that claimed the lives of about one million people.

It has gone down as the bloodiest and the quickest genocide in history.

Today the Rwandans are still trying to heal the nation and cleanse their wounded souls.

There are many lessons to learn for all of us, especially here in Africa where the diversity of culture often creates a minefield as we try to reconcile different perspectives and interpretations of history.

In all our encounters, history affects us differently.

Now would be a good moment to remind ourselves that the Rwandan genocide was triggered by politics of insults. And we have seen enough of that in South Africa lately.

This week many channels were used to reflect the noise and clutter caused by the death of white supremacist Eugène Terre'Blanche.

The brutal bludgeoning of Terre'Blanche comes at a time when racial tensions are high and the atmosphere is polluted by the invocation of struggle songs that should have no place in today's society.

To suggest that one song has led to the death of the AWB leader is taking it too far, but anybody with a brain can see how the repeated chanting of "Shoot the Boer" would create the impression that encourages and celebrates this action.

We will never know the full effect of singing songs that call for violence, but why take a chance?

It is true that our history gives us identity and should never be wholly discarded.

But not everything in our history is worth repeating.

South Africans made a decision to embrace change and any person who stood against these winds of change has been successfully blown away into nothingness.

That is why at the time of his death, Terre'Blanche was a shadow of his former self and his racist movement, a whimpering, feeble group of bitter verkramptes.

Terre'Blanche was a racist - pure and simple. He himself was guilty of perpetrating crimes against black people and the law dealt with him, maybe not sufficiently, but that is the point of being in a constitutional democracy - your emotional attachments must yield to the requirements of the law.

And when the law fails you, you challenge it. I hold no brief for Terre'Blanche but we have to be honest here.

Choices were made in building this South Africa. We cannot agree to a constitutional democracy and yet call for the law of the jungle when it suits us.

How is it possible for the ANC to declare murder a crime and yet sing a song that calls for murder?

These positions are incongruent. If murdering someone is wrong then any action that encourages murder has to be wrong

Discarding certain songs will not in anyway dim the light on what is really a rich Struggle history.

The ANC is the most formidable liberation movement in Africa and, possibly, in the world.

Banning a song that is so old and tired would not even make a dent on the party's glorious history, never mind obliterating it.

To do so would reflect very positively on the party and prove that the ANC does not only fight for change but is itself capable of changing.

Those on the right side of the struggle against apartheid have to be big and not stoop to the levels of the Terre'Blanche's of this world.

It is not just the oppressors who needed to transform, liberation movements also need to do so.

After 15 years, why sing songs that pit one group against the other?

Surely, given its glorious history and the depth of talent within its ranks, the ANC has a wide repertoire of songs that are not inflammatory and inciteful but pay due tribute to its proud history.

Even when the courts banned the song, instead of challenging the ban and exercising restraint until the matter is settled, ANC leaders were defiant and carried on singing.

Their about-turn this week is too little too late, they have proved their contempt for the rule of law.

Winston Churchill was right, a fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject.


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