It’s an odd thing to compare your life to nature. After all, nature represents a tranquility, so simple in itself that it creates a resultant beauty, whereas life is characterized by daily prejudice, discrimination and violence. Sunsets and storms. Isn’t that the life we all live? A similarity we all carry into our own stories, the choice we all have to make? We choose to live in sunset, where four different colours, black, red, yellow and orange exist in harmony, where the beauty that is unity transpires or we decide to exist in a life of storms. Here there is strife, struggle and turmoil. This is the home of entities that refuse to exist in parallel unless the only ones in parallel are their own kind.  You choose tranquility, or you choose violence.  You choose equality or you choose division. You see, the decisions we make define our actions and thus determine the lives that we live. Who we are isn’t portrayed by the greatness of our abilities but rather by the significance of our actions.

If life is then all about choice why do things such as abuse, inequality, discrimination and racism occur? Why is there poverty and violence when people have a choice – if people have the opportunity to make known their own voice? This is answered simply in the explanation of life, where what you do almost always affects others, while you remain unaware – not due to blindness but rather due to turning a blind eye. Your actions have consequences. The difference is whether you perform them with an awareness of others suffering or if you act only to benefit yourself. We all say that life is a choice when inevitably only those who have social standing get to make that choice because the choices they make are indefinitely the choices forced upon the helpless. As stated by Larry S Kacher said “On this mortal journey we must never think that our choices only affect us.”

Mario Balotelli once said that racism springs from ignorance – Ignorance in terms of what it does, where it comes from and where it leads us. When we consider racism in our countries it seems it’s the foundation is due to a lack of acceptance. We as separate race groups refuse to acknowledge one another’s struggles while persevering with the destructive idea that “I and only I” know my pain, choosing to remain ignorant to what goes on in someone else’s life. If racism is to be eradicated we as a society need to be aware that we are not alone in our endeavours, and we alone do then not have the right to set up stereotypes against another group due to one members horrendous actions towards us.  No one person defines our country and so nor should we conclude to live our lives according to the actions of a select few who choose to live their lives according to racist ideologies.

Stephen Bantu Biko (1946-1977) sought to free the minds of the oppressed-Beaten

Ashley Kriel (1966-1987) was a community activist and a member of the Bonteheuwel Youth Movement- Violent ambush

Hastings Ndlovu (1961-1976), a schoolboy who joined the protest against unjust education- Shot

Hector Pieterson (1964-1976) joined the protests as well- Shot

Throughout the struggle against Apartheid lives were lost, choices were made without justification and were opposed not only by the oppressed but also by the free. These are names of freedom warriors who lost their lives in the fight. All were of the oppressed society, and so from this information racist views grew because it was believed that only the oppressed fought. But that is not the case.Neil Hudson Agget (1953-1982), a white Doctor who saw the cruelties of Apartheid- was beaten in prison

Helen Beatrice May Fennel was a woman who played a large role in apartheid, although she was never killed she was charged with high treason, had prosecutions against her and several assassination attempts but never did she falter no matter the turns she found her life taking. She chose to live her life in fear and rejection rather than subjecting herself to the choices that other people made.

In addition to the names above are many members of the Liberal Party of South Africa who were banned and persecuted due to their refusal to give up the fight. All belonged to the race that was in charge at the time and so here is evidence that not all people of the same race agreed with a select group’s choices. They disagreed so much so that they chose to fight to the extent of banishment and in some cases death.

You see, when dealing with racism we can find common concepts such as separation and division because of the choices that were made. But when we as members of a NEW South Africa choose to focus on these ideas we fall back into the age old habits of our predecessors. To end racism we need to forgo the idea of seeing one another due to our skin-color. A fundamental key in finding long lasting peace is to see people for who they are on their merits alone, good or bad and not to determine that by looking at their skin-colour. During the struggle against apartheid all races sacrificed, all lost and those that fought for the oppressed were seen as one, why can’t we as a new South Africa be seen as the same?

Paul Lewis Boese stated that “Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future.” So why do we not forgive one another the mistakes of our ancestors, giving each other the chance to live a different life by a different motto? Hatred, Anger, Fear: all enable racism to thrive in our society unnecessarily. We hang on to the past when it has long gone, constantly looking behind us. In focusing on the past, we are trying to still live in it, and by always looking back we so often trip and fall because we forget to look forward. The past cannot be changed, the present should thus not be influenced by it and the future should not be modeled according to it. If we choose to heal we must forgive, and to grow we must let go. (30 Best Inspirational Forgiveness Quotes and Sayings, 2018)

If we do not choose to forgive we are going against the foundation of what our greatest leader strove for. Nelson Mandela wanted unity without resentment as shown when he said that there is ‘no future without forgiveness.’ 27 years in prison, the loss of his life, his family and his, at the time, expected future. We are all aware of the empowering speech that our beloved former president gave at his trial. Even then he was willing to give his life for a better South Africa, a untied South Africa and by choosing division we inevitably make his fight, his suffering pointless. Do not live in resentment for it will inevitably be your own downfall.

Nelson Mandela forgave, so that we may have the chance to forgive. All members of the oppression I ask that you forgive past choices so that we may move forward. If we want to root out racism you have to root out the reason for those who choose it.

All the South Africans that formed part of the free during the Apartheid need to let go, no longer seeing another race as anything else than their fellow human.  Be like the five year old boy whose dad was killed in front of him, who does not see his father’s murderers according to their skin colour but rather according to their actions. I should know. I was that little boy.

 

You know the root to racism

You only choose to ignore it

But by knowing the root to racism and choosing to ignore it

You inadvertently show that you are all for it

 

We choose to live in ignorance

When we live our lives in distance

We cause others pain

When the freedom we fought for is in vain

 

You ask the key to racism

But you choose to not see

You ask what you can do to change racism

When the key to rooting racism is you.

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ABOUT FOUNDATION

In pursuing its core objective of deepening non-racialism, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation will:

Promote the values, rights and principles enshrined in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa;

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