South Africa’s Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, says as in as much as it is government’s responsibility to promote and advance national reconciliation through progressive policies and education, reconciliation must begin with the individual and attitudes.
“We should not despair at the actions of the few, who still cling to the attitudes, behaviour and language of the past,” he said.
Delivering the Day of Reconciliation keynote address virtually on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa, Mthethwa said it will soon be the end of what has for many been a difficult year.
“In our communities, at our places of work and study, and in our homes, South Africans have had to confront many challenges,” he said.
Mthethwa said South Africans had to deal with the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with rising food and fuel prices, catastrophic flooding in some parts of the country and ongoing load shedding.
“It is therefore particularly distressing that, amidst all these challenges, there have been several incidents of racism and intolerance. We have witnessed racists acts in our universities, schools and other public places,” he said.
He said while it is deeply disturbing that these attitudes continue in society, South Africans must take heart from the fact that the perpetrators of racism have found neither sympathy nor condonation from broader society.
“Time and again, our nation has shown its true character in times of need. In the darkest days of the pandemic, during last year’s unrest and in the aftermath of the floods earlier this year, South Africans came together. Communities reached out to each other.
“The same can be said for the incidents of racism that took place this year. Civil society mobilised against the racists. Pressure was placed on the institutions involved to take swift and appropriate action. Acts of racism will not be suppressed, buried or rationalised. They will be publicised, filmed, and put on full public view for all to see.
“No matter how great the difficulties we may be facing, we cannot turn on each other. It is up to each one of us, whether as families, parents, educators or as communities to do more to build bridges of understanding.
“It cannot be that bringing about reconciliation should be the responsibility of the formerly oppressed. Instead of retreating into our cocoons of race, language, ethnicity and class, let us use today, and indeed every day, as an opportunity to play our part,” Mthethwa said.
This year’s Reconciliation Day is being held under the theme: “National Unity, Healing and Renewal”.
South Africa marks National Reconciliation Day on Dec 16 annually to focus on promoting social cohesion, healing, unity, nation-building and renewal.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK