Avishkar Govender
Avishkar Govender

A humble appeal for peace and national unity

I understand that the people of South Africa, having been denied their God-given rights to be free for more than 400 years, are anxious for the achievement of our aspirations for human development and recognition as people of integrity and capabilities both of which are things that have been denied and ignored by our erstwhile imperial, colonial and apartheid masters.

As such, we must as a united South African people, ask ourselves whether we are committed to the process of nation building and the consolidation of a non-racial democracy, predicated upon the premise of universal franchise and human rights; or whether we are to be caught up in the cycle of failure which has plagued so many post-liberation developing nations the world over.

Tendencies towards parochial ethnic nationalism — that sets citizens against each other — cannot be seen as anything other than the demon of tribalism in another guise. We cannot assume that in a state of separate but equal ethnic sovereignty, that the rights of all the people will be protected and advanced, in the absence of a national framework which provides for people who are members of multiple ethnicities to be able to be represented and protected in all aspects of their lives.

And even under such neo-apartheid arrangements, we cannot begin to assume that the people will not be driven to conflict in and among themselves, on the basis of interpersonal and inter-ethnic differences and indeed on the basis of the very diversity which gives South Africa its vibrant and interesting social tapestry.

It is therefore clear that we cannot regress into a state of ethnic separatism, given that we have struggled for more than a century to overcome this very state of inequality, that has sown the vast socioeconomic divisions within our society at large. However, we cannot be blind to the reality of the multitude of unique and beautiful cultures which are endemic and unique to South Africa, and while we are all encouraged to pursue the expression of our own culture, we must also motivate ourselves and our fellow citizens to explore and learn from each others culture.

Cultural pride cannot be allowed to become the basis upon which we advance a separatist agenda, whether in the interests of advancing the Zulu nation, the Xhosa nation or for that matter the Tamil nation. We cannot allow this because we cannot begin to say that there are no cultural similarities between the various cultures of South Africa, and while, yes, it is clear that all of the cultures in South Africa are to be celebrated in and by themselves, and while, yes, it is clear that all of the traditions, systems and offices of those cultural traditions are to be respected and supported in and by themselves, it is also clear that we as South Africans have begun to build a new national identity and culture, and indeed, have begun to establish new national traditions since our liberation in the early 1990’s.

Therefore, on behalf of the members and the constituency of the Durban Fretus Society, I ask in all humility for the suspension of all secessionist claims being made and which may be made in future by any group in South Africa. We have begun to unite Southern Africa, we have begun to unite the African Union and we thus cannot as a South African nation allow our position of influence and leadership within the region to be undermined by the narrow objects of individual groups within South Africa.

This is not to say that we deny the injustices of the past, or that we are blind to the reality that vast amounts of land are still to be returned to the control of the traditional leaders who have been responsible for the supervision of the use of the land for the benefit of the people for thousands of years, but rather that we can and must engage in a process which gives credence to the system of traditional leadership, both in and by itself and in terms of what constitutes the role to be played by the traditional leaders, within the framework of our cultures, ethncities and diverse identities as the peoples of South Africa.

And as such, the Durban Fretus Society calls for an urgent national summit to be convened under the leadership of the office of the chief justice of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of South Africa, to be hosted by the office of the President of the Republic of South Africa, which shall bring together all of the traditional leaders, the ethnic groups, the official and protected language groups, the cultural and religious groups and all other groups which call South Africa home.

Let us continue to build upon the miracle of the rainbow nation, and let us do so peacefully. We cannot take decisions on the basis of expediency, simply because our are own interests are no longer being advanced to the exclusion of other interests, as this is an approach which is bereft of principle and instilled, instead with opportunism. The people of South Africa did not liberate South Africa from apartheid through expediency and opportunism, it was instead our commitment to our principles, which strengthened the legitimacy of our claims, both at home and in exile; and which thus enabled us to achieve the miracle of the rainbow nation in the first instance.

The members of the Durban Fretus Society will do whatever we can in order to ensure the inclusivity, representivity and open participatory nature of this suggested national summit, and calls upon all South Africans to support this suggested national summit in the same manner. We may by birth speak with many voices and in many languages, but we must be able to reassert our common and mutual national interests in a manner which reaffirms our national identity as South Africans, entitled to our God-given liberty.

With kind regards, best wishes and our sincerest prayers for peace

Avishkar Govender
Honourary Consul General
Durban Fretus Society

  • www.durbanfretus.com