Reconciliation the responsibility of all: Mthethwa

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National minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, has conceded that there is still a long way to go for South Africa to achieve true reconciliation.

The 2014 edition of the South African Reconciliation Barometer, published by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, showed that South Africans have grown more disillusioned by the notion of a rainbow nation, and instead see race as a salient aspect of their identity.

Mthethwa was speaking ahead of Tuesday’s Reconciliation Day event held at the Ncome Museum in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Two Reconciliation Day events are held on this site of the historical battle between the Zulus and the Afrikaners on December 16, 1838.

While the government hosts the national event at the Ncome Museum, the Afrikaner community holds a commemoration of the battle at the Blood River Museum across the river.

Issues of reconciliation are matters which need all of us

President Jacob Zuma officially unveiled the Reconciliation Bridge linking the two sites on opposite sides of the river.

Mthethwa says reconciliation across racial lines has also been difficult to achieve in many other democratic countries and believes racism is still present in many places.

“This division and not trusting one another is deep in our nations especially between blacks and whites,” he says.

Mthethwa says all communities have a responsibility to ensure reconciliation takes places, saying that Tuesday should mark “that turning point of these two groups celebrating together.” According to him, the nation can only move forward once both parties achieve reconciliation and understanding.

“Issues of reconciliation are matters which need all of us, on the other hand the Afrikaners speaking people must understand that for this nation to move forward, we’ve got to reconcile, much as the Africans on the other side,” he says.

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