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AfricaRace/Genger/Gay issuesSouth Africa

Ramaphosa vows to deal with inequality, racism in South Africa

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa has said that it is very important that his administration deal decisively with the obstacles to reconciliation, among them is the high levels of inequality in the country and the persistence of racist attitudes and practices.

He disclosed this while addressing the nation on Monday, in commemoration of National Reconciliation Day, which is 16th December, Ramaphosa noted that true reconciliation is impossible unless the country overcome the social and economic inequalities that persist in the society.

According to him, “On Reconciliation Day each year, we reflect on how far we have come in advancing national reconciliation. It is important that we deal decisively with the obstacles to reconciliation, among them the high levels of inequality in our country and the persistence of racist attitudes and practices.

“But it is equally important to acknowledge just how vastly different our country is today to what it was 26 years ago. For every negative story of racism that makes the news, there are countless other positive stories of racial integration, communities living in harmony and social cohesion that do not generate headlines”, he said.

Ramaphosa added that the true reconciliation is impossible unless the country overcome the social and economic inequalities that persist in the society. “It is only when the playing fields of opportunity are levelled and the lives of all South Africans improve that social cohesion will be strengthened.
 
“But we should at the same time not discount the important gestures in our everyday interactions that demonstrate our commitment to reconciliation between the races; and breaking language barriers is perhaps among the most important of them.

“Reconciliation is a weighty concept, and there may be many who are unsure as to what they can actually do to advance racial reconciliation. We may feel reticent to take the first step or to reach out, for fear of being judged or even rejected”, he said.

He called on South Africans call to think of the simple things they could do to reach out across the racial divide in their everyday lives. “One way of doing this is to learn another South African language.

“By trying to learn the language of your friend, your colleague, your neighbour or the people you interact with daily in public places, you go beyond just demonstrating cross-cultural understanding. You open up the space for real communication.

“We need to find ways to reach beyond our social and professional circles, to appreciate other people’s points of view. Through sporting, cultural and religious activities, we can find ways to interact with fellow South Africans from a diversity of backgrounds”, he added.
 





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