‘Dare to believe it can change’


It might be hard to believe that for much of human history, slavery was a norm, so much so that the very idea of having it abolished seemed like a maverick idea dreamt up by those without a grip on reality.

It was just over 200 years ago – in 1804 when Haiti (then Saint-Domingue) formally declared independen­ce from France in 1804 and became the first sovereign nation in the western hemisphere to unconditio­nally abolish slavery in the modern era.

The British Cape colony abolished the practice on New Year’s Day of 1834.

Until then, thought leaders of the time used all arguments they could muster.

This included religious justificat­ion, economic benefits and the oldfashion­ed, “that’s how things have always been” to defend the concept of owning other human beings and count them in the same way you count your cattle or vehicles.

The Americans went on a civil war precisely because some believed that they were entitled to own human livestock. Today it is unimaginab­le that anyone can proudly own up to owning a slave or defend slavery.

This column is not about slavery or its history. It is about daring to believe that what sometimes appears to be an unchangeab­le reality is not always as unchanging as it seems.

Last Thursday, a day before the launch of the 16 days Days of Activism against GenderBase­d Violence, police minister Bheki Cele announced that more than 10,000 rapes were reported in three months.

Sowetan reported that “this translates into an average of 109 rapes a day. There were 9,556 cases reported in the same period last year. The shocking statistics also revealed that of the 8,227 rape cases perused, 5,083 had occurred at the home of the victim or perpetrato­r.”

These numbers have become normal in our country. Even the usual clamour for Cele to resign or be fired have become so tired that they are hardly worth reporting on anymore.

Given the state of affairs, it is easy to become hopeless about ever winning the war against gender-based violence and femicide. If only we could afford to give in to the despair.

It is easy to see how many might see the 16 Days period as yet another public relations exercise by world government­s to be seen to be doing “something” about violence against women and children. And many have a point.

In the history of slavery we have a reference point for the world to see that it has the means and capacity to end up what was once seen as an intrinsic part of the human condition.

In the same way that slavery did not become part of the receding memory by wishing it away, we too must be ready to roll up our sleeves and push back against this crime against women and children.

It is not even a good enough argument to give up because we do not think that the fight might not be won in our lifetime.

We must see our efforts as planting a baobab and not Jack’s beanstalk in the children’s fable of the same name. Not everyone who fought for the abolishmen­t of slavery lived to see the day men and women were set free from human bondage.

We should not look down on our small efforts in fighting GBV and never be dismissive of the efforts of those who try their best.

Women and children should have a reasonable expectatio­n that those involved in GBV will be found, prosecuted and punished, when convicted, in a manner that makes others think twice before committing the same crime.

We should also not look ‘‘ down on our small efforts in fighting against GBV

 ?? Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya The F-Word ??
Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya The F-Word

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa