An uneasy union

Johan van Zyl, Gordon’s Bay

In contemplating the dire, unsettled political atmosphere so palpable in this our beloved country – as we all surely must – I have tried to think out of the box.

We have in effect a marriage within one house of two groups, the Black and the White.

You can use other words to call them by, and it won’t make a difference, because they are equally inaccurate, or half-truths at best: the Western and African cultural groups; the European South Africans and the Native South Africans; the Colonists and the Khoi-San. This list could be long.

Some in our country to this day still have a mindset to call the married couple the Oppressor and the Oppressed.

Some folks are adamant that we have many groups, not just two. For them the marriage is not monogamous.

Madiba used to distinguish between the groups by assigning them rainbow colours, wisely taking the sting out of the situation.

But let’s keep the numbers in this marriage argument down to the basic two.

These two groups are not figments of my or anyone else’s imagination. Historians have described them. We see them all about us. We are them.

The newspapers continuously report on all kinds of problems that arise because the married couple are not able to nicely play house together.

That’s because they are fundamentally different in the way they think and act.

Moreover, they are easily recognised by the way they flaunt their differences, with wanton disregard for one another’s feelings.

It seems so like a marriage proper, in which you have the spouses, the one from Venus and the other from Mars. Some will say marriages are disasters waiting to happen, others that two such different creatures cannot live harmoniously without doing one another harm.

Looking at the abundance of failed marriages world-wide, one is tempted to agree. Yet it has been proven that a marriage between two people can turn out to be a wonderful adventure, a linking of soulmates such that a lifetime of harmony and love is the result.

What’s the recipe?

In the days of apartheid the powers reasoned that a distance should be put between the two.

They should be separated but not wholly divorced. In so doing they can be kept out of one another’s hair and peace will reign.

Alas, it was not to be. The partners became alienated because there was no opportunity to really get to know one another.

Worst of all was that the one experienced married life devoid of dignity, through the demeaning behaviour of the other.

Post-1994 there came a new dispensation, in which the powers brought them back together in close association, but assigned them “winner’ and “loser” labels. Let only one partner change, they said, in retribution.

Let the loser be put in a situation of eternal redress with the sole purpose of having the tables turned.

I anticipate that this arrangement is untenable and destined to fail disasterously.

A new contract will have to be negotiated.

This will have to include a way in which the two partners allow one another space to be themselves, to live and thrive according to their custom, yet also to understand that differences can be worked out in peace and harmony without breaking the house down.

To ensure a better life for all, it is imperative that the partnership be built on a sturdy foundation of mutual respect, forgivingness, tolerance, goodwill and understanding.