In Northern Ireland the saying goes that a bridge and a traitor have one thing in common – they both go over to the other side. We saw something of those emotions in yesterday’s debates.
In Northern Ireland they killed each other for years over religious differences.
In Belgium language differences led to conflict.
In Eritrea, ethnic differences led to a 30 year civil war.
In the French revolution it was the rich against the poor.
America frequently has race riots. Malaysia and Singapore have special measures to prevent racial tensions between Malaysians, Chinese and Indians.
In the abovementioned countries, one difference between groups was enough for conflict.
South Africa has all these differences in one country. Religious differences, language-differences, ethnic-differences, wealth-differences, racial differences and many more.
History teaches that one spark can set off a huge fire in dry grass.
In our history a lot of blood flowed in clashes between white and black, white and white and between black and black.
Currently the sparks of racism are being thrown into dry grass everywhere.
The problem is that the majority of the comments generalise.
Like: “All white people are racists”; or “All black people are criminals or corrupt”.
A generalisation is always wrong because all people are not the same.
When the ANC Lekgotla says in a statement: “the black majority … believes that their attempts at nation building are rejected by the white minority’, it is a dangerous generalisation that incites and divides people into camps.
When the president says all the problems of this country started with Van Riebeeck, it is a racist over-simplification of our complicated history and a generalisation. The same goes for saying all land was stolen. History is just not that simple.
What does the FF Plus say?
Racism is a very serious issue that must be condemned unconditionally. Racism from the side of white people or black people carries the germ that could destroy South Africa and all human relations. Similarly, generalising is always a mistake.
But leaders must set the example. Leaders from all sides. Leaders determine the tone of such debates.
I repeat this in Afrikaans: Rassisme is ‘n baie ernstige saak wat veroordeel moet word. Rassisme van swart kant of van wit kant dra die kiem om Suid-Afrika en alle verhoudinge te vernietig. Net so is veralgemening altyd ‘n fout.
What does this lead to?
In Stellenbosch there was a residence party with the theme ‘Space and Stars”. Two female students decided to depict aliens. They painted their faces purple with glitter dusted over their bodies. This led to a racial outburst on social media; the students were suspended and bullied for a week by the authorities. Racism – was the charge. How absurd!
Here is a photo of a man in a dining hall of the University of Cape Town. On his t-shirt is written “Kill all Whites”. It is apparently not racism; just freedom of speech.
We’ve totally lost the plot. Purple faces are racism and Kill all Whites is debating.
This man wants to kill Derek Hanekom, just because he is white, and also me.
Gabonthone Rampa is a 21 year old student from Madidi in Northwest. He obtained ten distinctions in his first year. He cannot get any bursaries to continue with his studies and owes the university R33 000.
When Chris Johnson, a businessman from Vereeniging heard of this, he donated R150 000 to allow Rampa and two other students to continue with their studies. Johnson is white and does not know Rampa at all.
“Kill all Whites”, also means that the businessman Johnson must be killed. How crazy and how dangerous!
We see extremists in this House also. President Robert Kennedy said:
“What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant.”
Race relations in South Africa are worse now than at any time since 1994.
In a speech in this House, President Mandela said that the success of the 1994 negotiations “has been that there are good men and women to be found in all groups and from all sectors of society, and that in an open and free society those South Africans will come together to jointly and co-operatively realise the common good.” (10 May 2004)
Is it still possible?
In 1930 there was a depression in South Africa and an economic crisis. A government of national unity was formed to get the country out of the crisis.
In 1994 the Constitution stipulated that South Africa must have a government of national unity to secure stability for the transition.
The worsening relations in South Africa and the current economic crisis are very serious. If South Africa is given a ‘junk’ status, it will cost billions of rand more than the Nene crisis.
“One finger cannot kill a louse”, is a Swahili proverb.
Is it not time that political leaders from all groups, but also business leaders in South Africa come together in a government of national unity to get South Africa through this crisis?
Remember, when the SA ship sinks as a result of racism or an economic implosion, we all sink together.
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