South Africa: so much to celebrate, so far to go

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A DAY HAS ARRIVED that most South Africans and millions of justice-seekers around the world hoped they would live to see: the fall of formal apartheid.

IT WAS A LONG, BITTER, bloody road home for South Africa’s 30 million Blacks. The prisons, mines, and shantytowns are full of the ghosts of those who gave everything they had to bring one of the globe’s most repressive governments, backed by the U.S., a step closer to defeat.

This was not a path South Africans walked alone. People everywhere did what they could to bring down white rule. In the 1980s, the fight against apartheid was one of the most inspirational features of a mean-spirited decade.

There was good reason to celebrate as South Africans went to the polls together for the first time.

BUT AFTER ALL THAT, the journey is far from over. Because fundamentally, the shackles holding down Blacks are not legal, but economic.

The Black majority need jobs – half are unemployed – housing, water, electricity, education, and healthcare. Most are much more militant than their leaders in the African National Congress. There is widespread realization that nothing short of socialism will be able to deliver the goods.

The dawn of parliamentary democracy in South Africa signals a new day, and a new struggle, that is only just beginning.

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