Colombo, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War, Reconciliation, Sport

Any inspiration Joanna?

Some excellent goals scored, some unbearable moments of anguish celebrated as teams win and lose in an imperfect system, some stunning comebacks, terrible bouts of pain vanishing instantly once the arbitrator with a whistle awards a free kick, the tears of the Japanese, the despair of the Ghanians’, incompetent referees sent out to save face, all making a wonderful festival of sport.  All in all we have been witness to a wonderful world cup. FIFA president Sepp Blatter called it an emotional one. Emotional because we saw more than soccer in South Africa. We saw a nation healing. We witnessed what could be an answer for the modern tribalism, which is engulfing our world.

It was seen in a flag being celebrated equally by all races. Don’t be mistaken. A black and an Afrikaner were not spotted hugging each other, but the unity can be felt. Not pumped up, not voiced through news conferences and loud mouths in august assemblies.  The feeling gives you gut assurance that we are seeing the real thing. Imperfect, but it is open not incognito. It is recognizable and touchable. In the country where some of the most hideous crimes were committed, both in the name of racial purity and in the name of the emancipation of the oppressed, the human spirit is on the mend.

With the pessimist it can be agreed that it is not perfect. The extremist voices are there; the voices of hatred are not totally stilled as evidenced in the violent killing of Eugene Terreblanche the avid white supremacist.  Some even tried to make this a declaration of war by  blacks against whites. In the days prior to the world cup South African Police said white supremacists planned bombs in black areas. The president condemned the killing. From our own experience we know that such condemnation could mean something or nothing at all.

Presidential statements are immaterial when a process is on the roll. A process, which has caught the imagination of different strata’s of South African society. The word reconciliation is so perverted theses days. It is used as a means to obtaining funding nationally and organizationally. It is used to keep the prince in the palace and the poor man at the gate provided they are not throwing obscenities or hand grenades at each other.

Despite years since the end of conflict, the process of healing is in the kindergarten stage in South Africa, maybe because there is a ring of authenticity to it. The hope cannot be missed however even by the most skeptical. It might be best captured by the words of the song that was reverberating through the airwaves during the world cup.

“When I get older, I will be stronger
. They’ll call me freedom, just like a Waving Flag”

And I sat on my couch, got drawn into the crowds watching the enthralling soccer, but I cried. Tears of envy pouring down as I saw what I would love to see happening closer home.

Joanna, is their any hope and inspiration that you could give Colombo?