South Africans unite to undermine what divides us

 

18 December 2018

By Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

 

There have been many positive strides to foster reconciliation and national unity since the dawn of our democracy. However, the remnants of apartheid such as racism and privilege attached to race continue to run deep.

At times, these challenges seem insurmountable, but our history has taught us that there is nothing we cannot overcome if we all pull together to heal the wounds of the past. We are conscious that the dawn of democracy did not automatically undo artificial social, racial and cultural divides created by apartheid.

Each year we have an opportunity, through the national Reconciliation Day, to reach out to one another to deal with our past, reconcile and build a new nation. The day was introduced by the government of national unity to help build a united and prosperous country.

Building a shared future begins with South Africans from all walks of life respecting and acknowledging the past, celebrating the present and committing to build the future together. It is making a concerted effort to look beyond our differences towards a united society we all envisioned at the start of democracy.

As a nation we are fortunate to have been guided by stalwarts such as Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu who epitomised reconciliation, and were at the heart of our national reconciliation project. It is therefore appropriate that this year we mark reconciliation month under the theme: "The year of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu: Liberators for reconciliation" in their honour.

MaSisulu's remarkable life showed us that when we practise the principles of selflessness and service to others, we can build greater social cohesion. An area of importance for her would be how we treated each other in our daily lives. In her name, let us transcend class, race and gender and come together as one nation.

Our journey to a more cohesive society is further underscored by our founding father, Mandela, who oversaw our peaceful transition from apartheid to a society built on the pillars of democracy and freedom. He consistently remained an advocate of national unity and reconciliation.

In the unyielding spirit of Madiba, let us push for a greater recognition of shared symbols and values which signify national unity, and to promote a countrywide conscious sense of being proudly South African.

The national flag has a special role as a symbol of unity and reconciliation.

Earlier this year, we launched the "I am the flag" campaign to rekindle the spirit of unity among South Africans, with the national flag as the foremost symbol of unity and reconciliation. Together we can use the unifying power of our flag to promote and entrench national consciousness, social cohesion, nation building and patriotism among South Africans.

As we mark reconciliation month, we can honour our Struggle icons MaSisulu and Madiba by fostering a more cohesive society. We can also advance our national reconciliation project by exhibiting the values of these two icons and promoting the constitution.

Achieving the country of our shared dreams, will take effort by everyone. We will have to address the issues that still divide us by talking honestly and openly with each other. Such conversations can begin in our families, our social circles, our communities or faith-based organisations.

South Africans solve their problems through robust engagement. We have to prove to be a nation that find each other even when the issues seem insurmountable. The national development plan offers us an opportunity for united action.

On this national Reconciliation Day let us make a deliberate effort to reach out to each other to help SA to create a society which stands united in its diversity.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams is Minister of Communications.