Gugu Ndima writes that the vision of a Rainbow Nation wasn’t one shared across all races, it was part of many intentional political interventions in driving social inclusivity.
Johannesburg - South Africa is a product of a racial past; one which we can’t wish away. Our heritage unwittingly brings both pain and pride when we reminisce. We must, however, take pride in the foresight our struggle forebears had, that ultimately South Africa will become a country that belongs to all those who live in it.
The year of the first democratic elections, 1994, brought hope of a reconciled nation, yet this was only the beginning of a complex epoch.
It would be naïve to assume 1994 rid South Africa of all institutions which served and preserved class and race divisions. Remnants of apartheid and everything it stood for are still vivid in the democratic dispensation.
In the interest of nation building, former statesman Nelson Mandela always championed a Rainbow Nation, built on non-sexism, no racism, equality and democracy. His call and vision, however, never abdicated tackling dispossession and eradicating all forms of segregation.
The current trajectory – and some of the events which have become a daily occurrence of late – compel us to resuscitate social dialogue to frankly address contradictions which continue to weaken the foundation of our democracy.
We must be candid the vision of a Rainbow Nation wasn’t one shared across all races, it was part of many intentional political interventions in driving social inclusivity.
The isolation of Mandela from the broader mass democratic movement is blatant effrontery when his own political convictions and views were shaped by the ANC, which has claim to a vision of a democratic South Africa.
The irony of late is that the biggest defenders of democracy, the Rainbow Nation and reconciliation, are preservers of remnants of apartheid who normally drown germane issues of land dispossession, economic transformation and social inclusion.
The morality brigade opportunistically elevates matters of social cohesion and morality, to undermine interrogating matters, which touch the core of an untransformed economy.
However, we must equally guard against “flamed” sloganeering and political opportunism, which might hijack emotive and sensitive issues, potentially reducing them to quotidian politics.
We will not liberate our people by insulting or shouting better. It is equally defeatist to raise issues because it seems fashionable at that point in time.
The failure of project democratic SA only benefits architects of apartheid, and forces which continue to undermine the gains of the struggle.
Regurgitating lessons of a painful past combined with treacherous obliviousness to history will naturally have detrimental consequences for future generations.
The current issues, which seem more effervescent and blatant today, have always been on the liberation agenda, and continue to serve as a lighthouse to continue a struggle waged against apartheid yesteryears.
The black majority, which largely remains disenfranchised, must never apologise for demanding transformation and fighting for economic justice, in as much as whites must enthusiastically demonstrate their willingness to be part of the democratic dispensation in word and in action.
Reconciliation must be a consequence of efforts by every South African, and not an imposed political imperative.
The consequences of gatekeeping and prejudice will only fuel tensions in society, which can subsequently be to the detriment of nation building and our democracy. South Africa, post-1994, has inadvertently avoided a coherent discourse on the effect and entrenched ramifications of apartheid.
The unintended consequence of such a forged unity remains the sustained disenfranchisement of the black majority; disenfranchised in industries, disenfranchised in the academia, disenfranchised in the mainstream economy.
The responsibility of transformation has unfortunately been abdicated to government, when its role has limitations, given that wealth largely resides in private hands.
The dream of a Rainbow Nation can be realised, but never to the detriment of the majority of our people. If we are to realise total emancipation of the people, we must tackle the root of all socio-economic dispossessions.
The struggle is still very much alive and the growing impatience of our people is abject illustration, of a precarious foundation of a Rainbow Nation.
The current generation has a bestowed generational mission of realising economic freedom in their lifetime.
The political prefatory of this leg of the struggle requires vigorous engagement within the structural, participatory platforms of our democracy.
The dream of a Rainbow Nation and reconciliation remains one of the ultimate realisations, however, it can’t be used as an albatross to censor deep rooted contradictions, including racism, which still need to be addressed.
* Ndima is the media and communications officer, Gauteng office of the chief whip.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
The Sunday Independent