Unity after Madiba?

| Axolile Notywala
Inspecting toilets in Khayelitsha. Photo by Fergus Turner.

After the departure of Nelson Mandela, where is this unity we talk about? On the day of Tata’s memorial the world was watching. It was a day where South Africans from different backgrounds, through the rain, walked, drove, took buses, trains and taxis to Soccer City to witness the memorial of an African hero.

In South Africa and outside, this mourning period is seen by many as a time for unity. It is seen as a time for forgiveness. It is seen as a time for self-reflection as individuals and as a country and a time to hounor Nelson Mandela.

I live in Cape Town Kayelitsha and have lived here for most of my life now. I never knew any white people for many years of my life, for about 18 years. I knew about white people. I had seen them around, mostly in town once or twice a year. I had also seen them on tv. But I had seen very few during my primary and high school time.

The most white people I had seen at once was when I had been chosen to go to Rondebosch Boys High with a few other learners from Khayelitsha to write some tests for a chance to be chosen to study there had we passed.

Today I have many white friends, very close friends, many I am very proud to have. But this is not about me. This is about unity. This is about the reality of what is happening today in South Africa.

The City of Cape Town retweeted several tweets yesterday, the day of the Cape Town memorial. All applauded the great work done by the City organising the event, how it was wonderful and perfect. One tweet said, “@CityofCT You pulled off a stellar #CTmemorial!!! Well done. Unity through song and dance”. I paused and thought about this one.

Where will the post-Madiba unity be when poor people march for better sanitation and higher wages?

Is there really unity? Is this the unity Tata dreamed of? How long will it last? Until 15 December 2013 (the day of the funeral)? What will happen when the people of Khayelitsha are protesting for access to adequate sanitation in the CBD? What will happen when miners strike because of their low wages? Will we see the kind of unity we see behind these struggles or will they be called names by those privileged and educated enough to write opinions in papers? I hope not. Is there unity when ward councillors in Khayelitsha (mainly ANC) and City officials (mainly DA) turn a blind eye to the grievances of the people who suffer the most in informal settlements? Is there unity in this country when people go to sleep on an empty stomach?

A unified South Africa needs answers to these questions.

I am not saying we should not celebrate what we have today because of uTata and many others who fought for the democracy we have today. I am a very grateful. But, what we should not be happy and smile about the level of inequality between classes in this country. We should not be happy about Nkandla, the Secrecy Bill. We should not be happy about sanitation conditions in Khayelitsha and other townships, the e-tolls, the illegal removal or destruction of our homes and businesses by the land invasion unit and police. We should not be happy about the lies we are fed by government at all levels when they want our votes. If we want unity, we should all stand up and fight against these injustices, both as voters and citizens.

To live for and advance the ideals of uTata let us all come together in this sad period and onwards and let’s unite against the everyday struggles of the poor and working class people of our country, against the everyday corruption we see in government and outside, against the everyday sexual violence and assaults on and by our brothers and sisters.

Let us all put aside our race and class differences and fight for a better South Africa. Tata said we should not call him and now he can no longer call us, but we can still call, sms, whatsapp, BBM, tweet, facebook and meet each other and talk about positives ways to unite for a better rainbow nation.

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TOPICS:  Society

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