[Video and podcast] Sisonke Msimang on whiteness, multiculturalism and Jacob Zuma
More about the book!
CBC/Radio-Canada has published a multimedia feature on journalist and activist Sisonke Msimang as part of a global series titled ‘Us and Them: Diversity, Division, and a World of Difference’.
Msimang spoke to CBC at Constitution Hill, and also delivered a lecture as part of a global series titled ‘Us and Them: Diversity, Division, and a World of Difference’.
In the video that accompanies the article, Msimang speaks about her love for Johannesburg – ‘gritty, both falling apart and moving up’ – and talks the visitors through the cultural significance of Constitution Hill.
Msimang also speaks about what she calls ‘the tragedy of South Africa’:
‘I cannot remember,’ is what white people said time and again when they went to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. ‘How did he die?’ ‘I can’t remember.’ ‘Where were you when it happened?’ ‘I can’t remember’ – says the perpetrator, who’s been forced into this process because it offers amnesty. So he’s there because he has to be. But he’s captive to this process and is resisting. So the resistance of whites in South Africa is, ‘I cannot remember.’ And the black person’s response is, ‘I can’t forget.’
In her speech, given at the Women’s Gaol, Msimang spoke about diversity and the possibility of a truly multicultural South Africa, formed as Europe and America begin increasingly to embrace populism and resist difference.
She also spoke about how President Jacob Zuma demonstrates of one the country’s key hurdles: despite being unified in their disdain for the president, South Africans are themselves divided, as the whiteness of the ‘Zuma Must Fall’ marches highlighted. But Msimang says Zuma’s presidency may also be seen as a ‘gift’; perhaps he ‘has been sent to provide us with an opportunity to remember what we promised ourselves we would be’.
She ends on a hopeful note:
‘We are learning to scan the wreckage of history and mine it for gold. We stand with diversity etched in our bones and written in our blood. We stand in a refusal to be trapped by the narratives of the past and the fragilities of the present.
Listen to the podcast and watch the video below: