It’s Too Early For The Rainbow Nation of South Africa To Forget Their Pre-1994 History

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Having honed my sports outside broadcast skills in the rainbow nation six years ago, I made many friends in the South. I have learnt a lot about the history of Southern Africa through their rich oral tradition, films and sports. Not only did watching the inspirational documentary on the role of music in the fight against apartheid, “Amandla!” and the feature film “Invictus” expose me to their sad but liberating history of resistance and eventual freedom, it also got me hooked to their music and sports outfits respectively–now, my son and I are staunch Orlando pirates supporters.

South Africa is indeed one of the continent’s blessed nations in many aspects. In sports, it is a shining star in soccer with the best funded, most well-organised, and most competitive premier soccer league (PSL). It is a world-beater in cricket with its famous Proteas, and a world powerhouse in rugby, both 15s and 7s, with their Springboks and Emerging Boks to mention but a few.


South Africa Fans Celebrate at Soccer City by Celso Flores

In the arts, especially music, they have had a talented lot from time immemorial, musicians who did pieces that will never go out of style. They songs teach you about their daily struggles and the importance of solidarity and peace. This is true from the great Vuyisile Mini, super vocalists Sibongile Khumalo, Judith Sephuma in her song, “Le tshepile mang”, Hugh Masekela’s “Bring back Nelson Mandela”, the late Lucky Dube’s “Soweto” jam, and my all time favourite poet/Singer Mzwakhe Mbuli.

When Mzwakhe started singing his famous tune “Kwazulu Natal” on my car’s audio this morning, however, I stopped it in its tracks. I paused to think of what would be Mbuli’s thoughts of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s recent speech in Pongola that is alleged to have sparked the xenophobic acts currently being witnessed in the rainbow nation.

It’s a serious crime to only blame the black South Africans engaging in this gory acts of beating up, killing, and burning other foreign nationality groups within their boarders alive leaving the leadership to go scot free. The stubborn fact is that everything rises and falls with the leadership of the day.

I have been to a few South African provinces and seen the disparity between the rich and the poor. It prompts me to think that the system has hatched what is going on now — as Martin Luther King Jr. was once quoted saying, “There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of people who feel that they have no stake in it; people who feel they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society protect that society, but when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.”

Jr. Luther’s thoughts coupled with effects of a people whom the system has denied their very important history of how solidarity got them to where they are today form the ingredients for all the ugly scenes now being witnessed. 1994 is not so long ago for black South Africans in a country with an economy so developed as theirs to forget that their forefathers, too, sought asylum in other people’s countries during the struggle against apartheid.

A Child in South Africa by Chris Preen

A Child in South Africa by Chris Preen

Apart from many other ordinary nationals and political luminaries, history states clearly that the late Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president and leader of the ANC was once granted an Ethiopian visa under the name David Motsamayi through the orders of his majesty Emperor Haile Selassie. The passport aided his secret travel to Ethiopia for military and political training from Emperor Haile Selassie’s army.

While in Ethiopia, Mandela received a gun from the colonel in charge of his training to prepare him for the coming struggle on the instructions of the Emperor Selassie himself. It is further reported that the gun may have been “Umkhonto we Sizwe”, the first weapon of the African National Congress (ANC)’s armed wing, Spear of the Nation.

With all these information available to share, it therefore suffices to say that what is being experienced currently in South Africa is a clear indication of systemic institutional failure despite having one of the best constitutions in Africa and being led, for 21 years now, by one of Africa’s model movements, the ANC, whose values are a total contrast of what’s being witnessed now. Mandela, Marcus Gavey, Tanzania’s founding father Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, and Haile Selassie must be turning in their graves on seeing these acts.

The deliberate denial of a people’s history in schools by successive regimes in my country Kenya seems to have become fashionable all over Africa. We are still divided into ethnic groups instead of being one nation.

Why? Because our history of resistance against colonialism — perhaps the only history that shows that one time we fought as one people — is denied to us to continue segregating us for selfish political gains.

The first solution to peaceful coexistence is therefore in teaching that history. Young South Africans must be taught how their relations with other nations gave birth to the freedom they enjoy today. They must be reminded that sustainable peace is not characterised by the lack of large scale war in any country.

South Africa - Port Elizabeth by Diriye Amey

South Africa – Port Elizabeth


May the departed souls of our brothers and sisters rest in eternal peace.