Live and let live this Valentine’s Day
Love knows no boundaries, or so the saying goes. And in a diverse country like South Africa, love should be allowed to thrive across our different cultures, religions and beliefs.
For centuries, many young men were encouraged to marry within their communities, but even more so to go all out to find that beautiful one from other areas.
Under apartheid South Africa, mixed-race marriages were prohibited, and those who had the courage to marry thus were banished by their communities and forced into exile.
Now, 22 years since we attained democracy, we should of course still embrace anyone who falls in love within their own race, but do so even more when they are enamoured with someone from another race. This could help a country like ours on its path towards social cohesion, especially where matters of race continue to divide us.
When the Mvezo chief, Nelson Mandela’s grandson Mandla, converts to Islam and marries his sweetheart, Rabia Clarke, we should all be happy. But not South Africans – so many were quick to draw the culture and tradition line in disapproving of the lovebirds’ union.
What society are we building for the next generation when we preach one nation but are quick to vent our anger when a traditional leader follows his heart and marries the person he wants to spend his life with?
We cannot use culture and tradition to prescribe to anyone on matters of the heart; those are decided by the individuals concerned.
On this Valentine’s Day and during this month of romance, South Africans should be spreading the love instead of spewing bile at those who have found it.
Culture and traditions evolve with time. Things have changed, and we cannot be trapped in the old habits of the past. Live and let live.