Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day of Reconciliation musings

Photographer: Don Key
From: South Africa #8 Dundee and Durban
Sony » Dscs650
TB Code: [photo=3886576]

Tomorrow is the Day of Reconciliation which has had various incarnations - Blood River Day, Dingaan's Day, Day of the Oath and now in the new democratic SA, Day of Reconciliation. It's an interesting example of how apartheid has been subverted in SA. A day originally held by a small group of Afrikaans Trekboers to remember the massacre at Blood River of a Trekboer Party led by Piet Retief, by Dingaan and the Zulus, it was considered to be almost a Holy Day. The site has a life size replica in black metal of the oxwagon laager that was used to try and keep the Zulus at bay and tomorrow there will be another Remembrance Service at the site.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission opened up many unhealed wounds in the psyche of South Africa, allowing for some cleansing and renewal, some forgiveness after the discovery of the real story behind so many deaths. Racism is still alive and well in South Africa, as it is in many countries around the world, not confined only to Afrikaaners or Germans, much as some people would like it to be. I work in a company and office where I am the only white person and yet I feel accepted and loved by my work colleagues. Perhaps I have the advantage of an upbringing that stressed tolerance along with honesty and a career of working primarily in black areas with black people. I also have the advantage of being part of a family that includes Zulu/Xhosa, Hollander, British, German, Irish, Indian and Afrikaans, along with Catholic, Jewish, Pentecostal and Methodist members and blood ties. When you have such a polyglot collection of relatives it's difficult to hold onto racism or religious bias because by doing so you exclude some of your family members.

For this season of peace and joy I wish that we might all find our common humanity and accept all people, whatever their background, race, culture or religious inclination. If we start with families we can move out to the wider world and start to make a difference there too.


  1. Humans have inexplicably perfected the art of segregation by any available means...not only gender, religion, language, and pigmentation,
    but height, musical tastes, footwear, sporting events, literature, food preferences, you name it. We are ridiculous.

    We should all think like Marlon Brando who flunked out of the armed services by "righting" the wrong answers in his application.
    Under race he wrote Human and under colour he wrote it varies.

  2. I agree completely with that - it always infuriates me that under our new dispensation we still have to write down our race and religious persuasion on official documents - except that now its for ensuring equity rather than segregation, or that's what they tell us - I'm going to use those answers the next time I'm asked them.

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