Sibaya’s investment in a stellar visual exhibition and commemoration dinner ought to make other KwaZulu-Natal businesses straighten up and ponder. History and heritage are important to all our communities. Our South African nationhood is founded on the principle of unity in diversity. Respecting and honouring the emotional aspects of our collective being therefore assumes great importance.
It might not have dawned on the 500 or so guests at Wednesday’s event that we were seated in the very fields of the Zulu Kingdom that had been invaded by British imperialism in the 19th century with the final death knell being the 1913 and 1936 Native Land Acts. The toil of Indian and African workers has added value to those lands creating billions of dollars in share value for the sugar barons and their descendants.
The French economist Thomas Piketty is best-known for his work on income inequality. His views of the cane- fields are that the income of the workers and their children will never catch up with that of larnies and their children. The argument centres around generational wealth. Those who have wealth will pass it down to their heirs. Breaking that cycle will take bitter medicine. A sweeter medicine is for the beneficiaries of imperialism, colonialism, unfettered capitalism, apartheid and indeed our new democracy to put back into the communities that have made them wealthy.
With all its sophistication, even capitalism must realise that to constantly extract and give nothing back is bad for business. There was barely a whimper from big business when His Majesty, King Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu led the celebration marking the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Zulu Kingdom and more recently his conciliatory gestures on the 140th year since the Anglo-Zulu War.