On Saturday, 20 October 2012, Beeld published an article written by former Commissioner of the South African Human Rights Commission, Mr Leon Wessels entitled "My voete loop na Worcester, waar versoening lewe kry." See attached.
Mr Wessels write that "I can't leave this country and leaving is not a solution for me and many thousands of South Africans. I want to stay and find answers. While I can't find all the answers in Worcester, it is a good place to start if you are willing to wrestle with the critical questions facing our country." He makes the important point in his article that reconciliation is a word that implies cost. It implies being willing to grasp the pain caused by our past.
When Professor Sarah Maddison from the University of New South Wales, visited Khulumani earlier this year, she shared her own work on addressing these critical issues in Australia. In her book Beyond White Guilt, she explains that there is a need for people to grasp the enormity of the "conquest and dispossession of people" that happened in settler societies. We need to "find new ways of thinking and talking about our pasts and how we can live together in the present and the future". This is our adaptive challenge. Without doing this work, she explains, the problems we face will not just disappear.
The authorities are not able to fix the problems because the real solutions can only be generated through beginning a shared exploration of our collective guilt so that we find peaceful ways of coexisting and we come to rethink our institutional frameworks. Authorities do not have the solutions, she warns, and a dependence on political solutions creates an inappropriate dependency. Authorities can only produce fake remedies or divert attention from the real issues. The work needs to be done by all of us.
These words echo with the words of Professor Jonathan Jansen when he addressed the gathering in the church adjacent to the shopping mall in Worcester where the bombs exploded on Christmas Eve 1996 on National Day of Reconciliation 2011. He said, "Every South African should get to know the Story of Worcester". He went on to explain that reconciliation will take time because "we got into this mess over 350 years. It is hard work, uneven work. Some will stay angry and will die angry, without forgiveness in their hearts. Reconciliation is costly work and in this work, victims must have priority and the focus must be on social justice. Forgiveness gives you space to heal and takes the burden off your back, but never forget that people do not understand at the same rate. Remember, someone put things in Stefaans' head. Reconciliation is necessary work. We are still in deep trouble in South Africa. We are a country of "kwaai bose mense" and we need a Khulumani Support Group to bring us together in this wounded country where we still hear calls to 'get the whites.'
Khulumani is extremely proud that Ms Olga Macingoane, a survivor of the Worcester bombing, and a member of the Worcester Hope and Reconciliation process was selected last week as the recipient of the Annual Reconciliation Award of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation for 2012. Halala, Mam'Olga. You are an inspiration to all of us and we are extremely proud of you.