South Africans celebrate Reconciliation Day amid divisions

December 16 is a day when South Africans as a young nation reflect on issues of national unity and social cohesion.

Two historical events took place on this day and to a great extent shaped the politics of the country. The first of these was in 1838, when the Battle of Blood River took place between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus, according to SA History Online.

The second event took place on December 16 1961, when the ANC's Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) was formed to wage an armed struggle against the apartheid government.

702 and CapeTalk, earlier in the month unpacked the findings of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation's (IJR) Reconciliation Barometer, looking at the strides South Africans have made as a "rainbow nation" and if race relations are improving or deteriorating.

Listen to the conversations below:

Race relations in terms of black and white are improving... There's a lot of effort being put in from the other side - white people trying to prove they can live together with black people...

Juliet, caller from Rivonia

It doesn't help anybody to deny or avoid the subject. We are sitting on a powder keg.

Xolela Mangcu, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Cape Town

The levels of physical interaction between South Africans of different races remains quite low. We only talk to each other in 'legislated spaces' such work and school, but hardly in intimate social spaces.

Jan Hofmeyr, Programme Head at the IJR

This article first appeared on 702 : South Africans celebrate Reconciliation Day amid divisions


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