Dear South Africans: A Mother’s Plea on Heritage Day

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As I sweep the floor of a house I am about to leave, I reflect on what it means to be a rainbow nation and a mother – there is no condemnation from a newborn babe – he or she doesn’t care whether you are black, white, pink or purple – we are mothers and we love you unconditionally as do you, us!

Dear South Africans, Sunday is Heritage Day – a day of which we should be proud! There is no reason for division – we need to unite, share skills and build a nation which is melded together in strength – a fusion of cultures and experiences which will provide a fruitful foundation for all the children in our country.

Dear South Africans, I hear you cry but we are poor – we have no money… but, you have so much more – you have ingrained family customs which are far richer than any money can buy. You don’t leave your elderly mother by the wayside and not spare a thought for her welfare – you invite her into your home and ensure that the community members keep an eye on her; that she has food to eat and a roof over her head.

Dear South Africans, you grumble about a smile from a ‘white’ person, but have you ever thought about the reason for that smile? A smile costs absolutely nothing and yet it can warm the heart of a very lonely person. Have you ever given any thought to what that person may be going through? There is NOTHING patronising about a smile - we would be a very dour nation if no-one smiled at all.

Dear South Africans, you complain about privilege and yet almost every young couple starts out on their careers and build their homes from scratch – putting hour after hour of hard work into the quest. But, what about education, I hear you say? South Africa is the most amazing country with an abundance of opportunities – it is one of the few countries with minimal red tape for entrepreneurs – you dream it, you can do it … BUT, you have to be prepared to work for it! AND, primary education is FREE!

Dear South Africans, you scream for FREE tertiary education and yet you’re not prepared to put every gram of energy into earning that degree or diploma! What has happened to dedication to studies and building a career? What has happened to vocations, where teachers taught for the love of educating a child; nurses didn’t just work a 12-hour shift for the money, but because they wanted to bring people back to health; doctors cared about their patients; librarians cared about their patrons? How can we have reached a situation where our children can graduate to Grades 4 & 5 and not be able to read? This is no way to build our skills base AND certainly NOT what we as mothers want for our children!

Dear South Africans, this Heritage Day give thought as to how we can work together – share our skills – young and old (there is a wealth of education waiting to be shared from years of experience)! This should not merely be a case of social cohesion, living peaceably side-by-side, but should be social fusion – an interlocking of skills to build a South Africa which is totally unique and unshakeable despite political regimes and rhetoric.

Dear South Africans, we are rich beyond measure – whether we stand to lose all our financial possessions or have to walk to where we need to get to! Musical talent and rhythm abounds; there are stories to be told and to be written; community projects which can be started from very little spurred on by passion… but, most of all your sense of community! It’s time to pack away the troubles of the past and look to the future – the kind of future we as mothers want for our children. Please remember they never asked to be born and should never be blamed for the mistakes of the generations preceding them. Librarians and teachers take the time to get to know each one of your charges – they are leaders in the making – let’s create a country with a rainbow heritage which they can aspire to lead!

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