Reconciliation Day for who?

Reconciliation Day for who?

Seth Mazibuko: Concerned about the general idea of the Reconciliation Day

“It is a distorted date and a public holiday that seeks to misrepresent our history and heritage of African people and misinform our children; the very children that we fought this freedom for – if there’s freedom anyway.”

This is a lament from one of the voices of the 16 June 1976 students uprising in Soweto, Seth Mazibuko. He is one of those who survived hail of bullets from the guns of apartheid security agents. About 20 000 learners in Soweto took to the streets in protest against the use of Afrikaans as the medium of instructions in schools. The police opened fire on them, killing more than 200. Scores of others are still missing and cannot be traced.

“Who and what are we reconciling with?” Mazibuko asks. He says those who were better of pre-1994 or those who were in power are still in power, have the land and are protected. “Those who were undermined and discriminated against and whose education was designed to undermine them are in the same situation.”

Chilas: most people make time for entertainment during the public holiday

The Reconciliation Day was celebrated for the first time in 1995. The government’s idea was to harmonize and reconcile opposing sides in South Africa after the apartheid era. Before then the nationalist regime declared the day a holiday and named it Dingaan’s Day. History says in 1836 the Voortrekkers defeated Zulu warriors led by Dingaan near Ncome River in KwaZulu-Natal. The confrontation was dubbed, the Battle of Blood River.

Usually Sowetans – especially young people – party, indulge in alcohol and braai to ‘celebrate’ the holiday.

“There’s a lot of reconciliation on this date that we need to do to reconcile with ourselves. That particular reconciliation we must deal with is xenophobia, gender-based violence, what is happening in our country as far as education is concerned. Those are the basic stuff that we need to reconcile with if we need to reconcile. Other than that, this is a distortion of history,” opines Seth Mazibuko.