So you finally convinced the government that a statue of an historical figure needs to be torn down, in order for our beautiful nation to complete it’s transformation toward freedom and equality. You must be proud, as you watched the offensive monument dragged from his place in Cape Town and, perhaps somewhere in your mind, dragged from his place in history.
My dear youth, how naïve you are – so hopeful that the removal of a statue, or the renaming a university lecture hall, would somehow bring some further closure to our country’s rocky path. You should not be so hasty to remove pivotal elements from our history, or have you not heard it said how history repeats itself?
I have no honour in my heart for the likes of Cecil John Rhodes – a man misguided in a time where it was standard belief that native Africans were lesser beings. I hold no honour for what he stood for, what he did, and how he treated human lives. I do not honour him, and in fact I do not care one iota about that statue.
But I honour history. I honour the lives destroyed by Apartheid; the families ripped apart; the true struggle that your parents, and those before them, fought. And I feel that there is danger in trying to erase portions of our history by tearing down landmarks raised to remember it.
One day our children may never know who Cecil John Rhodes was, nor will they know his terrible mistakes. By then, spirited youth, you may have eradicated all traces of Jan van Reebeck, Paul Kruger, Pik Botha, John Vorster…. Well, the whole filthy lot of them really. Our children will be robbed of the opportunity to reflect on our country’s turbulent past, and the heinous mistakes of our predecessors that brought about such a past.
Sure, you will want to raise tributes to our beloved Nelson Mandela at every corner. You will sing and dance and you will honour the man that brought peace to a troubled nation. And yet…
Dear Spirited Youth, did you not learn anything from Madiba? When you speak, all I hear is hate and bitterness, the very things, and perhaps even the only things, that Madiba truly ever wanted to erase from our country. He stood for forgiveness and reconciliation. Your actions sow animosity and division, and no amount of Mandela statues will make you right.
This country does not need another revolution. It does not need more violence, more struggle, more riots and demonstrations. It does not need more death. It needs a joining of hands. It is thirsty for forgiveness and desperate for unity.
I weep for you, dear youth, and pray that the day will come where you realize how little it matters what statue stands where, but rather how very much it matters where fellow humanity stands in our hearts.
That is where you will find your transformation.