The 16th of December 2008, marks our South African Day of Reconciliation in our 14th year of democracy. President Nelson Mandela in his speech in 1995 stated:
“There are few countries which dedicate a national public holiday to reconciliation. But then there are few nations with our history of enforced division, oppression and sustained conflict. And fewer still, which have undergone such a remarkable transition to reclaim their humanity. We, the people of South Africa, have made a decisive and irreversible break with the past. We have, in real life, declared our shared allegiance to justice, non-racialism and democracy; our yearning for a peaceful and harmonious nation of equals” (MESSAGE BY PRESIDENT NELSON MANDELA ON NATIONAL RECONCILIATION DAY 16 December 1995).
There is a remnant that still holds true to the wise words of our honorable Madiba. But today we are in a post romantic era of our South African politics, an era filled with anxiety, anguish and concern about the depth and authenticity of our Reconciliation process.
In my discussions with seasoned leaders and political minds, it has become apparent there is great critic of our current day South Africa where our differences are being utilized as political rhetoric and device to divide us rather than unite us ‘into a source of strength and richness’. It would be most insightful to hear the Father of our Nation Nelson Mandela reflect on our political process thus far, as we draw closer to the 15 years of democracy. I choose to believe that our honorable Nelson Mandela would acknowledge the divisive schemes of politics gone bad, and would reach out to the souls of leaders and consciousness of people to live for a ‘peaceful and harmonious nation of equals’.
Our current political process leading up to our 15th democratic election, is held by some as an exciting, rigorous and competitive election, which will yield a better South Africa for all. There are others who are skeptical and fearful of the signs of the times, as political competition between the African National Congress and Congress of the People intensifies.
It is my hope and prayer that there will be a recommitment, a revitalizing and reviving of our South Africa to remain true to as Nelson Mandela proclaimed in 1995, “The rainbow has come to be the symbol of our nation. We are turning the variety of our languages and cultures, once used to divide us, into a source of strength and richness.”
Reconciliation is worth pursuing at all costs, and I am hopeful for my country as I am for our world, that there are people who are willing to go the distance and take on the pressures and social injustices of our day. DeYoung (2007) explains, “Faith-inspired activists live and practice their faith in ways that do not recognize socially constructed boundaries They strive to transcend race, culture, class, and other artificial limitations” (Living Faith, 2007, p. 139). On this Day of Reconciliation, may we be reminded of transcending the barriers that prevail, pursuing a world that some might say cannot be realized in our ‘here and now’.