Below is the proposed pledge that all South African school children will be saying at school each day in the not too distant future:
“We the youth of South Africa, recognising the injustices of our past, honour those who suffered and sacrificed for justice and freedom. We will respect and protect the dignity of each person, and stand up for justice. We sincerely declare that we shall uphold the rights and values of our Constitution and promise to act in accordance with the duties and responsibilities that flow from these rights.”
There is a lot of controversy about this pledge at the moment - it's the subject of many of the talk shows on our local radio stations and there has been a fair bit about it in the press too.
Shoot me down if you feel the need, but I must admit that I have mixed feelings about it. I don't have a problem with the second part, but I am not too keen on the first bit. In my opinion, part of the problem in this country is that we spend too much time dwelling on our sordid history and not enough time working together to grow this country to its full potential. We should be dealing with the pressing issues that we are confronting right now - crime, electricity shortages, spiralling inflation and the like, instead of continually dredging up the past.
No doubt about it, there were "injustices in our past", yes apartheid was totally unforgiveable; but apartheid ended 14 years ago - for goodness sake it's time to move on. How is that wound ever going to heal if we are always obsessively poking at it?
Not for one minute am I suggesting that apartheid should be forgotten - our children need to learn about it to ensure that nothing like that ever, ever happens again. But we should also remember that the children who are at school now never lived under apartheid, they never engineered it, they never voted for it, so why on earth should they carry the guilt of it around with them on a daily basis? Far better to let them all grow up without it's heavy shadow forever hanging over them!
Please spare a thought today for my sister-in-law and her family who discovered a short while ago that while they were at work/school their home had been broken into and literally "cleaned out", all their clothes, electrical appliances etc etc have been stolen.
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