SOUTH AFRICA IS CONSIDERED A MODEL OF PEACEFUL CHANGE AND OF SOCIAL INTEGRATION. But, viagra 100mg as South Africans take part in a national public conversation on values, with the focus this week on acceptance, Sharon Davis looks at whether we are indeed accepting of the drastic social change sweeping our country.
Fifty-seven percent of South Africans feel that race relations in South Africa have improved since 1994. Fourteen percent feel race relations have deteriorated and 29 percent feel things remain the same, according to a Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) study.
Those who feel there has been an improvement attribute it to the church, sporting events, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the constitution, better employment opportunities for the previously disadvantaged and employment equity legislation.
Daphne Banks has run a home for abandoned, abused and orphaned children in KwaZulu-Natal for the past five years – first in Umhlanga, near Durban, and now in Richmond. “For five years we have had cross cultural children on our cars and in our home and we have not had one negative remark. Some people stare because they have never seen anything like it before – it’s a constant process of education,” says Banks.
Karthy Govender, professor of constitutional and administrative law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, agrees. In a recent interview, he said he believed social integration would be a long process. “We are divided on so many issues. The workplace is probably one arena where it takes place – and perhaps certain religious organisations,” he was quoted as saying.
“I don’t think the TRC resulted in integration but it has put issues behind us and started a process of moving forward,” added Govender, who has been seconded to the South African Human Rights Commission where he oversees legal issues, mediation and the writing of judgments.
“I do think many white people were surprised to learn what had been done in their names – and this has lead to a greater awareness of South Africanism,” says Govender. “Some people showed remarkable acts of forgiveness. There was a great measure of magnanimity on the side of the victims – the African people.”
But a study released by the government last month indicates that race and nationality are receding as primary forms of self-definition, even if class identity is rising in the face of rapid economic change.
“There is a general sense that race relations have improved and experiences and networks such as sporting events, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the church and legislative interventions are seen as having made a critical contribution to this,” says the report, A Nation in the Making – A Discussion of Socio-Macro Trends in South Africa.
“With regard to a number of attributes, the younger generation seems to evince practices, attitudes and an identity that is strongly integrative,” it says.
“Teenagers don’t see themselves in terms of race anymore. They see themselves as citizens of the world,” says Father Rodney Boyd, who is based at a Catholic Church in Woodlands, Durban.
“For young black people, apartheid is history. They just want to get on with life. The older generation is still holding on to the past to some extent, in some instances they contaminate the thinking of their children, which makes it harder to move forward.”
“Suburbs are becoming more integrated. But there’s still a lot of work to be done,” says Boyd.
And, says the macro-social report: “It can be argued that there is in our country a dominant social aspiration to fashion a society that cares, with aspirations informed by the ideals of equity, compassion for the most vulnerable, gender-sensitivity and honesty in individual and collective behaviour. These are the ideals that inform the core values of the constitution. The truth, however, is that aspiration and reality do not necessarily, and not always, coincide. Real life, even if it may jar with ideals, influences social behaviour in the here and now.
“The values of our society reflect a continuing struggle between survival/prospering in the market jungle and the humaneness of the human spirit.” – Heartlines Features.