The fear and tension to which children at a Brackenfell school are unfairly being subjected are a wake-up call to every parent and governing body in South Africa.
The conflict at the school reflects the failure of society, and particularly of parents and teachers, to root out racism among our children. If parents and teachers fail to heed the warning which Brackenfell sends, their children are in danger of being exposed to similar confrontations in future.
A quarter of a century after our political liberation, it is unacceptable that children still openly make judgements about other children based on their race, let alone use crude and hurtful racial epithets. It is even more unacceptable that the parents of such children bring them up to think there is nothing wrong with racial stereotyping. And it is unacceptable that parents organise “private” parties to which admission in a community such as Brackenfell is restricted by affordability.
Nearly 30 years after the structures of the National Peace Accord negotiated a framework for the holding of protests, it is also unacceptable that leaders of political organisations and government agencies do not appear able to agree on conditions which allow for peaceful, controlled protest which respects the rights of others and the well-being of children.
Dialogue is not an optional extra in South Africa, but an urgent imperative if we are to move into a non-racial future.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, Anglican Church of Southern Africa