Heed Sharpton’s advice
OUTSPOKEN American civil rights activist, Reverend Al Sharpton, a trusted adviser to former US president Barack Obama, has called on the government and leaders in South Africa to shelve their differences for the sake of the country.
Sharpton, 63, reminded leaders that the country’s democracy was achieved through activism.
Apart from being at the forefront of the opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency, Sharpton has 40 years of civil rights activism to his name.
He spoke to Independent Media at iNkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, having made his annual trek to the city for the second Essence Festival. The festival, which originated in New Orleans, ends today. It aims to celebrate the city’s culture and music.
“We should remember that a quarter of a century ago democratic freedom was achieved here.
“Therefore, we should not taint the fact that activism, which included the efforts of labour unions, helped to take down apartheid politically.”
He was speaking in response to trade union Cosatu’s countrywide strike this week when thousands downed tools and embarked on strike action to voice their disapproval on state capture and corruption.
He said worker’s rights must be respected, that people be allowed to do business, and government ensure healing from previous hurts happened. “Government must not be the replacers of oppression, they must be the ones stamping it out. Even if it meant they are the ones who made adjustments; put the cause of the country ahead of personal agendas.”
Sharpton said he was excited about the festival.
“It has become a smashing success. The energy and enthusiasm is amazing, and I’m proud to see Essence has made a bond with the business leadership here in Durban. I look forward to watching it grow.”