Following the illusory demise of apartheid, South Africa emerged as a testing site for the experimentation and application of “transitional justice,” a legal structure that necessitates recognition and comprehension of what it truly is, an advanced manifestation of settler governance in a country lacking a distinct national identity.

By Themba Khumalo

The terming of December 16 as the National Day of Reconciliation was a mistake of astronomical magnitude. This designation dealt a significant blow to those who endured profound hardships during the eras of colonialism and apartheid.

The new rulers, hand in hand with the former oppressors, pulled a real fast one with this shady manoeuvre to pull the wool over our eyes and wipe the slate clean, effectively squashing the one-of-a-kind rebellious fire that burns within Africans.

On this day in history, the bigoted Voortrekkers defeated the formidable Zulu nation at the Battle of Blood River. It is disheartening that the earnest tribute to the brave individuals who fought tooth and nail for their land and freedom is intentionally undermined by those who should be more enlightened. It seems like they are throwing a wrench in our plans to pay homage to the blood, sweat, and sacrifices made by our ancestors.

In 1838, the Battle of Blood River raged across what is now known as KwaZulu-Natal, marking the rise of colonial power. Like cunning predators, the intruders seized the opportunity to advance their prejudiced and malicious agendas, casting a shadow over the landscape. This confrontation was an intense symbol of significant defiance as Dingane fiercely resisted the encroachment of the nefarious invaders and land usurpers, like a brooding storm cloud intent on subjugating an entire people based solely on their race.

In the aftermath of the battle, the Afrikaner descendants continued commemorating their forebears’ victory over amaZulu as a powerful representation of Christianity prevailing over what they perceived as barbarism. They ardently embraced this event as a manifestation of some kind of divine benevolence towards their people. This battle further solidified the mythological notion that they were divinely favoured and justified in governing the vanquished Africans, thereby establishing the basis for the oppressive and inequitable principles that underpinned the apartheid system.

So, there is absolutely nothing conciliatory about a day that represents downright brutality, when a group of entitled individuals swooped into that part of our country, claiming the land as their own and asserting their superiority through the barrel of a gun.

The terms and conditions of reconciliation were crafted to disadvantage the vanquished, leaving them with no alternative but the continuous submission to economic domination by the arrogant and ruthless victor. The persistent gloomy socio-economic circumstances, stemming from a traumatic historical legacy that some members of society advocate for disregarding, continue to perpetuate the oppression of people of African descent.

Attempting to establish a societal framework rooted in injustice, inequality, and dishonesty poses a formidable impediment to attaining authentic reconciliation within the context of South Africa. It would be prudent to reconsider the course of action being pursued.

It remains imperative to acknowledge that genuine reconciliation and social cohesion are unattainable as long as landlessness persists and subpar living conditions persist in our ancestral land, impacting both present and future generations.

Genuine reconciliation requires a framework grounded in principles of equality and justice. A society characterised by the concentration of wealth among a racial minority, the limited ownership of land by a select few, and the systematic relegation of individuals of African descent to third-class citizens, is inherently incapable of attaining harmony and unity.

The commission of criminal activities, exemplified by land theft for this particular instance, contributes to the breeding of conflict and resentment. It is crucial to acknowledge that addressing the current tensions within our nation cannot be achieved through deceptive methods and the intentional obliteration of historical records.

Inequality is a form of injustice

South Africa’s inequality is staggering on a global scale, with poverty, inequality, and unemployment posing significant challenges. While the government has made strides in providing primary services and expanding the social safety net, inequality has continued to grow since the country transitioned to democracy nearly thirty years ago. This trend raises apprehensions about human rights and social justice, defying the constitution and social policy provisions. The enduring effects of apartheid have deeply entrenched inequality in the fabric of society, shaping both physical spaces and economic systems. Access to opportunities and human development outcomes play a  role in perpetuating this inequality, with far-reaching economic and societal implications.

Paying Homage

To pay homage to the countless Africans who tragically perished in their valiant struggle for freedom, justice, and equality over four centuries, I implore you to engage in the act of kindling a candle and partake in a moment of profound silence. This symbolic gesture betokens a poignant means to commemorate and venerate their unwarranted demise.

In the thick of the cheerfulness of braais and the dinner table, I implore you to consider the notion of gathering your kin and acquaintances, urging them to partake in a brief interlude of introspection, wherein you may collectively recollect the trials and tribulations that have beset us, as well as the current challenges we confront.

Our unwavering dedication compels us to show reverence and admiration for the numerous indigenous African communities that flourished on this land before being unjustly uprooted. We pay homage to those who endured the horrors of slavery, forcibly brought to these shores against their own will. We also acknowledge and respect those who tragically lost their lives at the hands of those who wrongly believed they were fulfilling a divine purpose.

Furthermore, we honour and remember all those who suffered unjustly during the dark days of colonialism and apartheid. We commemorate the memory of those who bravely held onto hope for a brighter tomorrow that, sadly, never came to fruition.

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