Participants at the recent Brand South Africa/Sowetan Dialogues expressed the popular sentiment that South Africans should remember the important role other African countries played in the country’s liberation, and keep it in mind when meeting other Africans.
The participants were attending the dialogues in Durban at the Stamford Hill Bowling Club on 29 May 2014.
The Brand South Africa/Sowetan Dialogues aim to provide a platform for communities to engage with key opinion leaders on important issues – as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP) – that affect South Africa.
The dialogues aim to encourage community members to play their part in driving social, developmental and economic change in their communities through active citizenship.
The 29 May dialogue questioned whether South Africans practised Ubuntu with their fellow Africans.
Panellists included: Mzwakhe Ndlela, a former Umkhonto we Sizwe soldier and author of The Fallen: Honouring the Unsung Heroes and Heroines of the Liberation Struggle; Stanley Rwandarugali, a Rwandan refugee and programme manager for the Rwandan Genocide Dialogues in Durban; Musa Mdluli, chairman at Khuphuka Investment Holdings and a PhD student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN); and Play Your Part Ambassador Brian Mpono, director of biofuels company Khwezi Oils.
Alex Mthiyane, Gagasi FM radio personality, facilitated the dialogue, which included students from KwaZulu-Natal higher education institutions, professors and members of the community.
ALL AFRICANS FOUGHT APARTHEID
The panellists all described positive experiences in African countries.
Mdluli painted an emotional picture of the journey to freedom for South Africa, talking about the “bloodshed that all of Africa went through to get South Africa liberated”.
“African countries assisted with travel documents for our leaders to travel out of Africa. Many families housed and took care of our struggle icons,” Mdluli said.
He added that many Africans had been caught in the crossfire between South African anti-apartheid activists and the government, and that, “We must not fight our African brothers. As we celebrate 20 years of democracy we need to find ways to help our African brothers whose countries are still fighting the struggle.”
Ndlela, whose book chronicles heroes who are not documented, said: “We should tell the youth and kids about the struggle so that they know where we come from. We should teach them of the struggle history of Africa and make sure they guard our freedom with jealousy.
“Our freedom was paid for by many an African, not just South Africans, so we should never undermine our brothers and sisters.”
SOUTH AFRICA A HOME FOR MANY AFRICANS
Rwandarugali, who has lived in South Africa for almost 20 years, said he would probably still be living in Rwanda but for the 1994 genocide.
“I came here as a refugee because of the violence in Rwanda and this country took me in. I started as a car guard at the Durban beach front and today I’m a part-time lecturer at UKZN,” he said.
Rwandarugali urged South Africans to see other Africans not as unwelcome foreigners, but as “brothers and sisters … because if we look at our histories it will show how our tribes as Africans are intertwined”.
The dialogue’s overall message was that South Africans should foster good relations with Africans immigrating into the country.