In the prevailing tidal wave of ugly racism and prejudice around the world, hate is becoming acceptable. Destructive anger is commonplace and protest is a justifiable reason to wreak havoc. It makes me so sad.
I have been equally saddened by the recent spate of rapes in our little community. This special little haven where wild animals and humans live in relative harmony has been terrorized by one man. A man whose actions sowed suspicion, division and fear. Teamwork and community vigilance resulted in his arrest. He has since been positively identified by his victims. Then, there was talk of him being granted bail.
So, today we marched in protest.
We marched in solidarity with the courageous victims who showed up to face their tormentor. We marched in protest against the crime in our community and our beloved country. We marched to object to the possibility of bail pending DNA results. We marched in prayer, for the intervention of a God who created us with a heart for community.
Call me naive, but I believe in the rainbow nation. I know news stories make it look like an impossible dream. But, today I once again experienced the beauty of the rainbow nation first hand. As we marched, black and white, men and women, the peace and unity was tangible. Some spoke out against rape, sexual abuse, crime. Others vocalised their love for our community and its people. Many people who work in our community expressed their dismay at the division this man has caused. They collectively raised impassioned pleas for justice and restoration of trust – for a safe place sans fearful suspicion.
My heart was full today. Our skins may be a different colour, but we are the same. Some people energetic in their protest, others quiet. But all were present, with one accord. We want the same things for ourselves, for our families and for one another. One of the victims gave an emotional thanks and I overheard her exclaim tearfully to a friend, “I love this country!”. Amen.
You see, the South Africa I know and love, is the rainbow nation. Sometimes I watch news reports of racism and wonder if they happened in the same country. Because, it has always been my experience that we are one. I know black people I consider family, and white people I distance myself from for their narrow views. This is not a matter of race – it is an attitude of your heart. The question is not what colour is your skin, but rather what is the condition of your heart?
Ubuntu is alive and well in our precious little community. And it has the power to trump the negativity and evil that humans are capable of – if we stand together with a view to making the world a better place for each other.