Wednesday, March 18, 2015



After the South African cricket team, Proteas, started celebrating their resounding victory over Sri Lanka in the first quarter-final of the 2015 World Cup in Australia on Wednesday, I expressed the view that the show boats have not choked this time round. I also stated that the new democracy for which we paid a heavy price guarantees me the right to express my views. But a lot of people did not like what I said and called on me to "forgive and forget the past".
I am a South African and proud of the sacrifices that we made to bring about the new South Africa but have become very disillusioned by the racism that still prevails among many people who enjoyed the ugly fruits of apartheid.
I, therefore, wrote the following piece in reaction to those who called on me to "forgive and forget the past".


By Subry Govender

I totally agree that 21 years into our new non-racial democratic South Africa that we must not hold onto the racially-divisive past and that we must "forgive and forget" like our great freedom icon and leader, Nelson Mandela.
I also feel that we must move forward without any prejudices, feelings of superiority or inferiority and discrimination.
But over the past year or so I have become totally disillusioned with the actions of some people, including the Proteas.
Sometime last year when the Proteas were preparing for a tour of Sri Lanka, many of us in the progressive movements and those who had paid the price for fighting for social, political, economical and sporting freedom, made an appeal to the Proteas people to abandon the tour as a show of protest against the Sri Lankan regime's atrocities and human rights violations of the Tamils in the North and East of the island country.
We pointed out that since independence from Britain more than 60 years ago, the Sri Lankan regime had been slaughtering and massacreing the Tamils. And towards the end of the civil war in 2009, the Sri Lankan regime had killed between 70 000 and 100 000 Tamils. This is now being investigated by a special United Nations Human Rights Commission team.
The Tamils of the island and those in Tamil Nadu and the rest of  India and the Diaspora all over the world had made it clear that there must be world-wide pressure and boycotts against the Sri Lankan regime, just like the sanctions that were imposed on apartheid South Afirca prior to 1994.
We asked the Protea people to demonstrate to the world that they support the human rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka by cancelling the tour. But what did the Protea people do, they went ahead without even making a statement against the violation of the human rights of the Tamils.
Then recently I wrote an article about the plight of workers at the Windsor Park Golf Course in Durban after the Ethekwini Municipality granted the contract for the maintenance of the course to a new contractor. I pointed out that the 20 or so workers had been in the employ of contractors at the course for 15 to 20 years and their fundamental rights to job security should be ensured. This after the new contractors made it clear that they would not take on any of the workers but would, instead, "bring our own workers".
The new contractors, after being questioned, only said that they would  interview the workes and if they needed anyone they would decide what to do. There was no assurance that the rights of the workers would be protected - workers who also have responsibilities as bread winners. I shared the sentiments of the workers that they should not be thrown into the streets.
I even pointed out that the workers should have been given a share of contract since the golf course is a municipal facility and it is maintained through the money paid by ratepayers. The granting of municipal, provincial and national government contracts are meant to economically empower those who had been oppressed and discriminated in the past.
Once the articles were published in the Mercury and the Daily News, I faced unparallelled racist reactions from many of the white golfers who use the course. They wanted to know why must the workers be given job guarantees and why they should be given shares in the new contract.
They accused me of being a "trouble maker" and a "terrorist".
One of the golfers said: "Are you the bloody bastard who is writing all the nonsense in the newspapers?" I quickly put him in his place by informing him that this is the new South Africa and we are not living in the past.
Another golfer, who I considered to have welcomed the new South Africa, was very critical and wanted to know why I was stirring up all the problems. This reminded me of the dastardly actions of the security police during the apartheid era. The security police during that period not only banned, house-arrested, restricted and denied us passports but also threatened us with dire consequences for writing and speaking the truths about the evils of apartheid.
I informed the golfer that I was merely highlighting the plight of the workers and that he should also be sympathetic to the situation of the workers.
It was clear to me that many of these whites are still living in the racist past and they only see black people as mere labourers, gardeners and maids who should be exploited. They are not prepared  to see the majority of the people of South Africa making economic, social, sporting and educational advancements in the new South Africa.
Their reactions made me wonder what has happened to the hand of friendship and reconciliation that was initiated by our beloved Nelson Mandela ever since he was released from life imprisonment in February 1990.
I must add that the plain racist attitudes of some of the white golfers who use the Windsor Park Golf Course is not just an isolated incident but prevalent in all aspects of South African life - including the Proteas in the sporting field.
Racism is alive and well. Don't be fooled by the superficial attitude of most of those who had benefited economically, sportingly and socially during the apartheid era. (There are of course countless others who have embraced the new South Africa and are helping in the transformation process.)
By exposing this does not mean that I am not critical of all the fraud and corruption that is taking place in the new South Africa. We must speak out - loud and clearly - against all kinds of degeneration that is taking place.
Many of us have made heavy sacrifices in the struggles against racism and we don't want to see any form of racism in the new South Africa.  

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