I see that my poem An Apology has upset certain people so here are my notes on the poem.
It is extremely presumptuous, I know, to apologise for Apartheid. Especially since I was only fifteen years old when it ended and played no active role in enforcing it. I apologised simply because I believe South Africa is a nation in need of healing. That, although some will deny it, the old wounds of Apartheid are still festering.
“Come on,” many of my countrymen will say, “Apartheid ended over twenty years ago. Its victims should move on.”
Whether twenty-two years of freedom is enough to get over more than 46 years of oppression is a question for another day. It is also irrelevant. Why? It is irrelevant simply because there IS lingering resentment over Apartheid. That much is obvious from the fact that so many people still point to Apartheid as the cause of our current problems. Whether justified or not, millions of South Africans still blame apartheid for the poverty they are experiencing.
Are all white people personally responsible for apartheid? No. Most of the white South Africans who enforced apartheid are probably in old age homes or the grave by now. Nonetheless, anybody who knows even a little bit about psychology understands that perception is almost always a substitute for reality. Sadly the perception among many but not all black South Africans is that white people are still oppressing them. At the very least they see us, driving around in our fancy cars and living in our massive houses, as having a monopoly on the wealth and resources of the country.
The question I asked myself before writing my poem is: Do the victims of Apartheid and thier children deserve an apology? I believe they do. I also believe that most white South Africans recognise how evil Apartheid was and will agree with me. South Africa is a nation in need of healing. More than ever South Africans of all races need to work together because it is the only way forward for us as a nation. If we fail to work together our beloved country will slide into the abyss of poverty, corruption, violence and possibly genocide that has swallowed so many African Nations. If we are honest with ourselves, we can already see signs of where we are going. Only when we are able to face each other and admit where we, or the people we are seen to represent, have gone wrong can we possibly move on and truly become what the great Nelson Mandela called the Rainbow Nation. If we are able to do that, South Africa will be not only become a free and prosperous nation but an example to other African Nations and to the world.