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Passivity is Democracy's worst enemy
The turmoil that has hit South Africa after the murder of Eugene Terre'Blanche has had one major positive outcome. It showed that the romantic and convenient rainbow concept dreamed by Mandela has been an optical illusion, an ephemeral meteorological phenomenon, that has been driving people to opt for a comfortable passivity.
Ersnt Kotze, from department of Political Sciences at the University of South Africa, rightly said : "AWB does not represent the average Afrikaner nor white South African, it's a small organisation that has lost a lot of its supporters in 94." Max Du Preez, columnist for News24 confirmed but added: "The fact remains, and someone should perhaps tell Malema and his juvenile yobbos this, that white South Africans actually gave up their power voluntarily."
I find the "gave up their power voluntarily" overly simplistic and chimerical.
If the white community has indeed given up a certain extent of its power, financial power still remains in its hands. It still largely dominates the business sector and less than 6% of the land has so far been redistributed throughout the country. The blame is shared, I think, between a white community that still conveniently ignores this social and financial gap and a black government elite that deludes South African citizens with a failed BEE plan and land reform scheme, as well as inadequate education policies. Two communities that seem to be oblivious to democracy's most fundamental principle: striving for equality.
Some -regardless of colour- obviously try to make a difference, yet they get discouraged by the lack of government accountability and the passivity of the rest of the population. Many don't try to make a difference and give way to people like Malema and Terre'Blanche.
It is a point that strikes me even more because I live in Cape Town. There, the social inequalities speak for themselves. When I go to the restaurant I am surrounded by whites. When I walk down to town, the cars driving up Kloof Nek road are mostly driven by whites. When I go the beach, I am surrounded by whites. Those activities require a substantial living standard that mostly whites have access to - still to this day. On the other hand, when I go to Khayelitsha or Langa, I see no whites. I hear people calling me umLungu - white person. People would stare and ask me: "Are you sightseeing?"
This question is still resonating in my mind like a false note that I desperatly need to tune. I suddenly realise that, in the eyes of under-privileged communities, white South Africans are seen as no more than just tourists sightseeing around their country - passivity once again takes its toll.
The only way to go beyond the racial semantic and overcome it is that of acknowledging the fact that the legacy of apartheid hasn't magically been wiped out by a shiny rainbow. The rainbow doesn't shine much for the great majority of people, that's a fact. Worse, it remains a convenient myth.
I am being told, however, that talking about the existence of racial disparities inflame racial tensions. To this I answer: how can a society solve and overcome a problem if the problem is not acknowledged and discussed first?
Passivity and oblivion are democracy's worst enemies.
Passivity gives populist politicians like Malema pepper to grind over our face. It gives him the opportunity to say: "Look at them, the white South Africans are rich and they don't care about you".
Passivity gives racist organisations like AWB the excuse to become what it's not: a party that represents white South Africans. It gives them the opportunity to say: "Look at them, they don't want you here"
Passivity allows Terre'Blanche and Malema to be representatives of communities they do not represent.
Passivity contributes to polarizing communities.
We represent therefore we are? I strongly disagree: this would give way to a dramatic and fatalistic vision of the state of the country.
I believe that we represent, therefore we act accordingly. We acknowledge what we represent and we act in such a way that our colour can never be a weakness, can never be used as a pretext by self-appointed bigwigs.
We are all different. Yes. But not because of our skin colour, but because of our different cultures and opinions. And this is what ought to be human beings' strength. Cultural diversity.