by Zaid Dante
Posted on September 24, 2020
24 September 2020
On Heritage Day 2020, we reflect upon the beautiful diversity that is to be found in our colourful nation. We take this opportunity to appreciate the richness of our heritage, as South Africans and as Muslims. The pioneers of Islam in South Africa were exceptional human beings, exiled to the Cape of Good Hope from Indonesia because of their activism and resistance to occupation. They were freedom fighters who never allowed their dire circumstances to get the better of them. Today, more than 300 years later, we have a conscious and developing Muslim community that continues to contribute to the development of our nation. We remember them on this day, and we draw inspiration from their excellence whilst reflecting on our heritage and their sacrifice.
While this year will be a year that will remain etched in our minds, hearts and history for many years to come, the lessons learnt will outlive generations.
One such lesson is the lesson of unity for a common goal, for a common good. Masks and sanitizers, social-distancing, and lockdown, all became the new lingo with altered fashion. Manicured hands were no longer important, whilst sanitised hands got preference. Legroom in taxis became a luxury never experienced. All of it done, to not spread Covid-19, to not put our elderly and loved ones in danger, to flatten the curve and to save the lives of our fellow countrymen. Our ability as a nation to adapt during this trying time is an indication of the power we possess as a nation to not only adapt to change, but to also effect change.
“Allah never changes the condition of a people unless they strive to change themselves” al-Quran 13:11
South Africans changed!
My religion, my political views, my job… all became insignificant, unless I was a frontline worker. Then, I had the pressure of a nation on my shoulders. I changed from a doctor and nurse to a virus-fighting superhero. I changed. We stood together and fought for democracy, and we brought about a revolution. Our political landscape changed but our activism must not change.
Now, our crime rate is high, our economy is weak, unemployment is rising, corruption is skyrocketing, and Gender-based Violence continues to plague our nation. South Africans, your heritage is more than Braais and Boerewors, Pap en Vleis and the debate between koesiestes or koeksisters. Your heritage is CHANGE!
A land that’s crime free, improved economy, employment for all and no corruption is not a utopia. It can be South Africa, if we are willing to embrace our proud heritage of collective activism and the demand for change.
As South Africans we must embrace our rich heritage and we must ensure that it remains a living heritage never to be forgotten or taken for granted. Let it inspire us to face and overcome our challenges as a people and as a nation.