On January 8, 1972, the ANC published its first January 8 Statement wherein it articulated the racial orientation of our liberation Struggle.
It said: “We must call attention to the specific and concrete form which racism assumes in South Africa, and renders it necessary that in its South African version this racism should be defined and identified in simple, tangible and realistic terms.
“The African - the black man - the Indian and coloured - all these people, these human beings, live and suffer misery, humiliation, discrimination, exploitation and political oppression at the hands of other people, other human beings.”
Forty-seven years on, the Occupy Clifton Beach in Cape Town saga is a stark reminder of how far we have come, yet how little has changed in relation to how our white counterparts regard us.
As we celebrate 107 years of selfless struggle to build a South Africa where all her citizens peacefully co-exist and not regard each other in racial terms, we must reject the notion of “colour blindism” that seeks to displace the goal of a non-racial society. This is a polarising tactic that the DA has come to champion in post-apartheid South Africa, which seeks to deny race as an important element of our national kaleidoscope.
The ANC recognises that race and culture are important characters of our national diversity from which we should draw strength and pride.
We must hasten to state that as a society we must not allow these isolated incidents to undermine and reverse the progress we have made, and build a South Africa that truly belongs to all her citizens across the racial, religious and cultural divide. The Clifton incident is a warning that we should avoid papering over the cracks of racial polarisation and make a genuine effort to find each other across the cultural and racial divide.
The demon of colour blindism must be rejected as it seeks to lull us into a false sense of achievement while we inadvertently embrace denialism. We must denounce all incidents of racism wherever they occur.
* Kodwa is the ANC’s Head of the Presidency.