JOHANNESBURG: Indian-origin South Africans, some in the seventh generation now, must not abdicate their role in the democracy that their forebears fought so hard for, a prominent activist of Indian-origin has said.
Internationally renowned mediator and recipient of the 2016 Gandhi King Ikeda Peace Award, Mohamed Keshavjee made the comments in the wake of the local government elections in the country.
Keshavjee was in the country of his birth 55 years after fleeing apartheid discrimination, only to encounter it again in East Africa and flee from there again to settle in Canada and the UK, where he is now based, after a lifetime of service to communities across the globe.
“As a South African of Indian descent, having left the country some 55 years ago and having witnessed the birth of an independent African state, Kenya; and the expulsion of Asians from Uganda and their resettlement in the UK and Canada, the recent municipal elections in the country have given me thoughts to ponder, not least of which is the role of the Indians in a post-apartheid society, almost 25 years after the fall of apartheid,” Keshavjee said. “Clearly, South Africans have begun to vote on the basis of issues and not necessarily by race. But despite the recent elections, race will continue to play a role in a country that is the most unequal in the world; and so long as wealth coincides with race, the racial card will be played in electoral politics,” he added.
“Indians need to participate in the process of government and ensure that South Africa operates as a democracy. Abdicating the role that they played historically would be a sad commentary on their past contribution.”
Drawing on his decades of experience as a mediator, Keshavjee said many in the country are still hurting.
“We need to reflect on how the wounds inflicted by decades of apartheid can be healed. Anger and pain need to be transformed into hope and positive energy,” he said.
Keshavjee also called on the 1.4 million Indian-origin South Africans to record their history in the struggle.
“This should be done not simply as an ode down memory lane but with a genuine understanding of the role played by them, from the advent of Mahatma Gandhi till the drafting of the new Constitution,” he said.
Source: Times of India, Aug 6, 2016
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