Freedom Day: Appreciation for contribution of white and black could counter polarization

Dr Pieter Mulder

All groups in South Africa seek reconciliation, cooperation and peace. True reconciliation is a win-win situation between all groups in South Africa. After 21 years, 27 April is becoming to mean the victory of one group over another even more now. This is a recipe for conflict and not for reconciliation.

If public holidays such as Freedom Day (27 April); Youth Day (16 June) and Human Rights Day (21 March) are continually used to only talk about the past in the speeches of leaders and to set up black people against white people anew, we are not making any progress. No wonder that the free born generation, who were raised on these speeches, storm statues and occupy land and believe it will resolve the problems they experience every day.

More messages about the future and appreciation for the contribution that both white and black people made in the past to make South Africa an economic giant in Africa will contribute to counter the current negative polarization. It will also implement the preamble to the South African Constitution which demands respect for “those who had worked to build and develop our country”.

South Africa has experienced four bad weeks as far as good relations and nation building is concerned. Attitudes and good relations which have been built up over the past 21 years have suffered serious damage in the past four weeks through populist politics. Populist politics where historical symbols, which hold great value for one group, were damaged and defaced by another group and by leaders who through their irresponsible comments caused xenophobia.

South Africa is a country with tremendous potential and talent. If it is utilised correctly, we will create room for all the residents in the country and the different communities to live together prosperously and in peace and harmony. If political populism, selfishness, self-enrichment and corruption however get the upper hand, we will be going the way of many other failed states.


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