Monday, March 1, 2010

A good read on Racism by Lesiba Teffo in the Times

Stop blaming apartheid and help to build a non-prejudiced nation, writes Lesiba Teffo

Feb 28, 2010 11:40 PM By Lesiba Teffo

The Big Read: In 1995 the Springboks won the world rugby tournament, and in 1996 Bafana Bafana won the Africa Cup of Nations in soccer.

Nelson Mandela was then president and honorary captain of both teams.

He was also the champion of reconciliation, social cohesion and nation building.

As a country, and as its people, we seemed to be working hard to realise the ideals of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society.

Alas! Fifteen years later, we are retreating into the dark days. The race card is played willy-nilly and by all, as if there had not been a watershed election in 1994.

President Jacob Zuma is rightly calling for an indaba on morals, in an endeavour to be inclusive, as we craft a common future and take collective responsibility for it.

This will be a presidential project, led by a team appointed on a fixed-term delivery contract.

My contention is that this will also come to naught, as did the "African Renaissance" movement initiated by former President Mbeki, and the moral regeneration movement that was led by Zuma himself, while he was deputy president.

Two reasons can help to explain the failure of these noble initiatives.

First, the notorious policy of cadre development was invoked when appointments to office were made.

Second, racist categories, under the cloak of transformation, influenced thoughts and actions, even in these honourable movements

This debate can be taken a step further, so as to include black racism as escapism.

All too often, the black oppressed of Africa, in an attempt to affirm themselves, do so in the negative. In their rejection of white racism, many of the former oppressed epitomise the very racism that has harmed their dignity and sense of worth.

Racism is racism, it knows no colour and, like a double-edged sword, it cuts both ways.

As fellow human beings, we must affirm ourselves in the universal sense. This ultimately implies respect for oneself and for fellow human beings.

For decades our continent has been rocked to its foundations.

Racism has tainted with blood the soil we walk on. Unfortunately, in our fight for freedom, the quest for power has all too often prevailed and we have become the victims of our own greed.

Corruption is rampant and manifests itself in various forms. We can no longer use the excuses of apartheid and white racism to justify our own mistakes.

True liberation is far more than political control, and public office should never be used as a vehicle for self-enrichment.

Freedom implies liberation of the soul of the human being in the universal order of things.

Seen in this context, we still have a long way to go before we can truly say we are free.

We must commit ourselves to overcoming this problem, which is fatal to our country, namely, racism as escapism. We should no longer compare ourselves to the man next door but to the ultimate goal we set ourselves.

Maybe then we will stop judging each other - white and black,and start helping and encouraging each other as fellow South Africans, and go beyond petty politics and self-destructive power struggles.

Let our relationships, no matter how small the circle, be genuine and in the spirit of Eric Fromm, who states in his book: To Have or To Be: "I have a great love for you' is meaningless. Love is not a thing that one can have, but a process, an inner activity that one is the subject of. I can love, I can be in love, but in loving I have nothing. In fact, the less I have, the more I can love."

Our beloved country is crying for redemption from corruption, moral decay and racism.

All initiatives, such as the indaba on morals and the lifestyle audits, seeking to achieve this noble goal should be embraced and supported.

Above all, we should remember that the integrity of the process is as important as the outcome.

Any attempt, perceived or real, at manipulating the outcome will render all exercises redundant.

Teffo is research director of the Human Sciences Research Council's democracy and governance programme