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Where Has the Rainbow Nation Gone?

Coen van Wyk

Posted on September 8, 2019 12:29

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In the heady days at the end of Apartheid, President Nelson Mandela united a divided nation into the "Rainbow Nation." For a decade people worked to realize shared dreams, aspirations, and hopes. Now, hate, distrust of foreigners, and violence reigns here and in the rest of the world.

Apartheid, at its inception, was simple: We have our way of living, doing politics, making our devotions. You have yours. So let us respect each other and stay apart.

Can we argue with such aspirations?

We have the small problem of reality: economic development became so integrated that separation was no longer an option. It may have sounded reasonable to expect Zulus to go back to Zululand and Indians to go back to India. But it was just not going to happen – families had become intermarried, business had developed, careers built.

The later attempts to enforce separation became more and more ugly, until the South African electorate, white at the time, accepted that an alternative had to be sought.

President Nelson Mandela, affectionately known as Madiba, the Old Man, stepping out of prison after serving 27 years for treason, united the nation with social events, stirring speeches, and sport functions. Who can forget how an integrated South African rugby team won the Rugby World Cup on its first return to the international arena with Madiba cheering from the grandstand, clad in a team jersey?

Today, 25 years on, we witness truck drivers barricading roads and torching trucks driven by foreigners. A police officer allegedly incited hatred by spreading rumors that foreign shop owners are kidnapping children. Social messages called on citizens to unite against foreigners who were besieging the country. Gangs of men patrolled the streets, and foreigners were beaten up, burnt alive, and their property looted.

Truck with foreign driver torched. SABC



And, in retaliation, foreign capitals were seeing crowds mobbing South African-owned shops, attacking South African Embassies, and torching South African trucks. Politicians appear on national television seeking to exploit divisions for political gain.

Signs show that the government had been aware of the building tension over the last months but had ignored the evidence. The result is that South Africa is, once again, being isolated from its region.

Foreigners are stealing our jobs! myzimbabwe.co.zw

Does this sound familiar? Echoes of this hatred in hatred for immigrants and refugees resound in Europe, in the United States, and in Australia.
 
Is Apartheid (or Apart Hate) returning in South Africa? Are other nations trying to implement what has failed in South Africa? Can they not see that the global economy has become so integrated that the metaphorical omelet cannot be unscrambled?
 
Apartheid President P. W. Botha once called on industrialists to support Apartheid. One of them responded by pointing out that diseases do not stop at borders and that you do not win customers by shooting them. Economies stagnate without foreign trade. Our foreign trade is our lifeblood. 
 
Fear of immigrants and the desire to be apart, to be insulated from change is understandable. It was, however, a dream. And applying Apartheid on a global scale is just going to bring misery on a massive scale, and in the end it won’t work.
 
Ask us, we know. Or we should. The rainbow will shine over the globe one day.
 

Coen van Wyk

Posted on September 8, 2019 12:29

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Source: Al Jazeera

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