Twenty-Two Years of One

Disagreeing with another person in an argument must be viewed for what it is. Disagreement. Both parties will have an opinion on a topic, but may not agree with one another’s versions. This does not make one person wrong, or the other right – it simply means they don’t view things the same way. Every married couple has been there. The importance – if you wish to get through it relatively unscathed – is to accept this difference of opinion, and not try to force your own on the other. Unless one is persuaded to agree with the other, the proverbial agreement to disagree prevails. This is a form of reconciliation.

“The restoration of friendly relations” is how one dictionary defines reconciliation. Another states it as, “The action of making one view or belief, compatible with another.” One would agree that the latter definition is more applicable to South Africa, as the two main protagonists never really had friendly relations from the outset. It’s in the law books and on our calendars, but the question of whether true reconciliation has been achieved in this country is still with the jury.

December 16th every year is South Africa’s Day of Reconciliation. As much as this day now represents peace, harmony and togetherness – its distant history is way more gruesome. On this day in 1864, a small contingent of Afrikaner voortrekkers, defeated an army of attacking Zulus, at what was to become the Battle of Blood River. In commemoration of the victory they deemed God gave them, it became known as The Day of the Vow throughout the Apartheid era. Then, on the same day in 1961, Umkhonto we Sizwe – the ANC’s military wing – was formed, and so began years of anti-government demonstration and ‘terrorism’. These two factions, generalised as Blacks and Whites, were in a state of perpetual ‘disagreement’ until 1994.

On the 16th December 1995, the newly democratic country celebrated its first Day of Reconciliation. In a few days’ time, we celebrate the 22nd year of this commitment. Have we succeeded? Do you personally seek the restoration of friendly relations? Because to get it right as a collective, we need to be dedicated as individuals. Agreed?

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