Despite the progress South Africa has made over the years there is still a lot of structural legacy of racism entrenched within its society.
But this could be overcome through a desire for change and a concerted effort in the right direction.
This was the sentiment expressed at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation’s launch of Anti Racism Week at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg on Monday.
The theme for this year was #RootOutRacism.
In attendance were former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa, who both spoke passionately on the need to root out racism “as it is still an unfortunate reality that still plagued our society as South Africans”.
Jonas said: “In 1994 South Africa inherited a state machinery built to serve only a small white minority and this is still unfortunately the case.
"But we have since built state architecture – when it is not captured – to serve all South Africans.”
“Racism in our country is a result of a colonial past, despite the progress we have made over the years there is still a lot of structural legacy of racism entrenched with in our society,” concurred Mthethwa.
As much as the pair acknowledged the past leading to the deep-seated problem that is racism, they also recognised that it was a predicament that could be solved “through a desire for change and a concerted effort in the right direction”.
“No one is born with the hatred of another due to the other’s colour of their skin, there is a learning that leads to the hatred. If they have to learn this then they can be taught to love,” said Jonas.
“We all have a civil duty and human responsibility to consciously think about the manner in which we behave in our daily lives.
"Every moment of our lives needs to be actions towards rooting out this evil from our homes, our communities and nation,” added Jonas.
As we lead efforts to eradicate our society of racism, “we should put extra efforts in dealing with the root causes, not just the symptoms,” advised Mthethwa.
In identifying ways of achieving this, Jonas said, “we must be able to address access to capital, technology, logistics, business support, and markets for new entrants to the economy who are primarily from disadvantaged backgrounds”.
“We also need to find more ways of including those that have been previously disadvantaged, not only through BEE programmes but through other initiatives,” added Jonas.
In concluded the two government officials expressed that “we must accept that centuries of racism will take successive generations to root out – in the streets, classrooms, factory floors and boardrooms.
Neeshan Balton director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation highlighted the rise in racism on a global scale particular since the presidency of Donald Trump and how there was a need to tackle it.
Balton explained that “schools, workplaces and using technology to combat racism” will be focus area of Anti Racism Week 2018 which will start on March 14 and runs until Human Rights Day on March 21.