Truths of the past linger in the present

Sunday World - - Opinion - HANS R MAN­GOLE

WRIT­ERS, now use your pens. The ink from your hand­writ­ing could rep­re­sent truth in its ir­refutable form.

Deep down in your soul rests the truth, a miss­ing, es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ent that should be min­gled into the ink ready to paint im­ages of so­cial phe­nom­ena.

These days the type­writer seems to have dis­abled the writer from be­ing a critic whose proph­e­sies ei­ther alert so­ci­ety to a stray­ing from the truth or ex­pose mea­sures to keep it sup­pressed.

Very dis­ap­point­ing was the script writ­ten for the cel­e­bra­tion of Hu­man Rights Day in Sharpeville last week.

The Sharpeville mas­sacre, it should never es­cape us, should be cred­ited to the PAC.

How­ever, the ANC, as the rul­ing party and part of the forces that fought for free­dom, should be com­mended for co-or­di­nat­ing the com­mem­o­ra­tions of this day of enor­mous his­toric sig­nif­i­cance.

This co-or­di­na­tion ex­tended to var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal agents a plat­form to cel­e­brate the suc­cesses of our lib­er­a­tion and crit­i­cally re­flect on the fail­ures.

At the height of the strug­gle for free­dom, the ANC ’ s strength came from its abil­ity to re­flect crit­i­cally.

Not much came in the way of an hon­est re­flec­tion on this oc­ca­sion.

To crown it, even the so-called op­po­si­tion seemed to have at best aligned their speeches to the script from Luthuli House, and at worst strived to outdo the writ­ers there.

One doubts, though, if this is what the ANC re­ally needs, let alone what democ­racy re­quires.

It steered away from con­demn­ing the con­tin­ued used of lethal force against people ex­er­cis­ing their right to protest

In chron­i­cling this his­to­rychang­ing day, nei­ther Robert Sobukwe nor the move­ment he led – the PAC – was given the de­served recog­ni­tion.

In­ter­est­ingly, friend and foe ex­tend this kind of recog­ni­tion to Tata Man­dela.

Sharpeville and Sobukwe epit­o­mise two in­sep­a­ra­ble sides of the strug­gle against so­cial in­jus­tice, so it ’ s ab­surd to cel­e­brate the one with­out men­tion­ing the other.

The gath­er­ing in Sharpeville last Fri­day cel­e­brated the de­feat of the ma­raud­ing pre-democ­racy evil forces that need­lessly mowed down people, but it also care­fully steered away from un­flinch­ingly con­demn­ing the con­tin­ued use of lethal force against people ex­er­cis­ing their con­sti­tu­tion­ally en­shrined right to protest or dif­fer.

For in­stance, the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Marikana and Sharpeville are in­escapable.

An­dries Tatane ’ s bru­tal death at the hands of the se­cu­rity forces mir­rors that of Steve Biko.

Clearly, we have not dealt with the forces and dy­nam­ics that spewed calamity at Sharpeville or Langa if we still have Mothut­lung and Relela.

It ’ s not to say these phe­nom­ena shouldn ’ t or couldn ’ t have oc­curred.

Noth­ing can be guar­an­teed in a fast-chang­ing and com­plex mod­ern so­ci­ety.

The least a people can do – and this is what is de­press­ing – is to: frankly ac­knowl­edge, sincerely con­demn and in­sti­tute gen­uine mea­sures to ad­dress the prob­lem.

The rul­ing party should have seized the op­por­tu­nity dur­ing the com­mem­o­ra­tions to ad­mit hon­estly that things should have been han­dled more hu­manely.

The au­thor is a po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor.

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