It fills my heart with pain and hurt that we even have to speak about xenophobic attacks in 2015, in South Africa, where Nelson Mandela passed the baton to all 52 million citizens to live in peace and unity.
Tata Mandela and so many freedom fighters lived in our neighbouring countries as refugees during the Apartheid regime and were even given Sudanese and Tanzanian passports in order to overcome Apartheid. If it wasn’t for those countries protecting and supporting our freedom fighter, we probably would not even have this democratic nation that we are taking advantage of.
I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s words: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” It’s the people who were never involved in the freedom struggle themselves that are leading and instigating these Xenophobic attacks. It is a sad day, when people of the same race, religion and continent choose to only see the differences and not the similarities that we possess.
Perhaps it’s because the youth did not have to fight for their freedom that they have so little respect for what they have. Theylack responsibility and it shows in their actions, maybe because freedom has come freely to them. Ask any struggle stalwart or any mother who lost her son, fighting for liberation, if freedom was free? We received our freedom through the blood and tears of thousands of people, respect the blood of our men and women, by respecting the freedom they fought so hard for.
I love my beloved South Africa for the rainbow nation that we so proudly proclaim to be. I am grateful for not having to fight for my freedom. I feel privileged to be living in an open society where our Constitutional rights are protected. But all this means nothing if we cannot live in peace and harmony in our beautiful country.
Some of the visions shared by the Parliament of World’s Religions is of a just, peaceful and sustainable world marked by these characteristics:
- Religious and spiritual communities live in harmony and contribute to a better world from their riches and wisdom and compassion.
- Religious and cultural fears and hatreds are replaced with understanding and respect.
- People everywhere come to know and care for their neighbours.
- The richness of human and religious diversity is woven into the fabric of communal, civil, societal and global life.
- The earth and all life are cherished, protected, healed and restored.
- All people commit to living out their highest values and aspirations.
The hope for our future lies in our hands, as our present lay in the hands of our forefathers. Government, religious leaders, countries all around the world are calling for peace, to whose call will you heed?
SOUTH AFRICAN AMBASSADOR PARLIAMENT OF THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS 2015 PRETORIA, S.A.