Why are we trying to rebuild this nation? What is the point of the current unity project? Surely it would be best to all agree that we don’t like each other, pick up our guns and enter into a season of open civil war. Why not? There seems to be a nostalgia for the old days that continues to crop up from various individuals who feel compelled to spread their negativity under the guise of honesty and freedom of speech. What really gets to me is that there is a particular victim mentality that exists among certain segments of the population that is completely out of touch with reality. South Africa, for various social and historical reasons, is one of the most violent nations in the world. This is a fact that we all have to face on a daily basis. White people are not the only victims of crime. In fact, in the townships (and also areas like the Cape Flats), crime is far worse than it is in the suburbs, where electric fences, gated communities and private security companies ensure that there is a reasonable level of security. What upsets me is the fact that the Anneli Botes’s and Steve Hofmeyr’s of this country sit smug in their comfortable homes and feel completely justified about their critiques of national matters they have barely attempted to grasp with any integrity. Their views are both insular and egocentric. If they had taken some time to look properly at the social landscape of South Africa, and then found that whites were the victims of a national conspiracy to get revenge against them for Apartheid, I would be more sympathetic to their concerns. Instead, they feel uneasy about the direction South Africa is heading (that is, the fact that lives from diverse milieus are intersecting), so they have chosen to complain instead of opting to work to make this transition better. It is each individual’s responsibility to confront the problems that plague our country, not just government’s. The true work of reconciliation is a national project and, in my mind, has not yet begun properly. What Nelson Mandela achieved was fantastic, but he was only a forerunner of what needed to follow. Desmond Tutu and TRC were the catalysts of a watershed moment in South Africa’s history, but their work only served to open up the spring of reconciliation. We need to get off of our lazy bums, stop whining like little children – because (guess what?) we are adults – and start doing the hard work of becoming reconciled to our neighbours. Everyone carries some chip on their shoulder from the past (both distant and recent). That does not give us licence to ignorantly air our views about how crap we think coloureds or blacks or indians or whites are. That is a foolish exercise with no constructive end. We all have things about which to be bitter and scared and concerned and angry and… the list could go on forever. So how about we stop feeling sorry for ourselves, grow up and start solving the problems South Africa faces— together. How about we take the focus off me and get in touch with the real injustices that continue to be a scandal in this nations, and then throw ourselves wholeheartedly into addressing these issues in ways that will positively impact the country for many generations to come.
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