Apartheid caused so much pain to the majority of South Africans. But
this did not discourage South Africans from standing together and
showing the spirit of Ubuntu and willingness to building a non-racial
President Thabo Mbeki attended the Day of Reconciliation celebration
with about 1500 people at Freedom Park in Tshwane on December
16. He said that celebrating the day of reconciliation showed “we are
on the right path to building a strong non-racial and non-sexist
Healing the pain
He said reconciliation was one way towards healing the pains caused by
the spirit of Ubuntu that has guided us to where we are today. Ubuntu
has shown us that South Africans of all races need each other to build
a united nation,” he said.
government had achieved much since 1994 to overcome the divisions, the
inequalities and the pain caused by apartheid. But much still needed
to be done.
said the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission 10 years
ago was an important step towards forgiveness and reconciliation.
Africans had also taken steps, including the writing of the
Constitution, to prevent future human rights abuse. Real forgiveness,
Mbeki said, could take place if black and white people themselves
break the racial lines without government having to begin the process.
He said South Africans could be able to build a non-racial and
non-sexist society if they were friendly, living in peace and caring
for each other.
Africans, Mbeki added, should understand that they were what they were
because of other people.
rich people are rich because of poor people. It is sad that South
Africa’s riches are still distributed in terms of race,” Mbeki said.
Preventing race hate
Meanwhile, Minister in the President’s office Dr Essop Pahad said a
lot had been done to prevent racial hatred among people.
gave as an example the drawing of the Constitution and the laws that
make all people equal.
Constitution, is the Bill of Rights which protects the dignity of
Pahad was speaking at the racism conference held in Tshwane, Gauteng
on December 15, to mark the tenth anniversary of the forming of the
TRC on December 15 1994.
theme of the conference was: Towards Reconciliation and Nation
Building – A Nation in Dialogue? The conference was attended by 300
representatives, from government and civil society.
the laws such as the Group Areas Act, Bantu Authorities Act, Bantu
Education Act, Separate Amenities Act and the Job Reservation Act were
cancelled by the Constitution because they discriminated against
people according to the colour of their skin.
people’s willingness to forgive those who helped the apartheid
government to oppress them show that forgiveness will bring South
Africans together,” he said.
the laws that promoted the right to equality, Pahad said, included the
Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act and
Employment Equity Act.
Crime against humanity
Racism was condemned by the United Nations as a crime against
“Everyday we hear of stories of people around the world who have been
abused because of the colour of their skin. The South African Human
Rights Commission also investigated racism in schools, in the media
and the army,” Pahad said.
result of its finding President Thabo Mbeki called a national
conference on racism in 2000.
government is planning a National Conference this year, so that the
nation can take stock of progress and strengthen the movement towards
a non-racist and non sexist society.