Who owns the land?

On Saturday 26 January, the topic chosen for our Diversity Dialogue was “Who owns the land?”

The dialogue began on an intellectual level with much reference to facts and articles written about the land issue. It became apparent that the facts were interpreted differently according to the framework people were coming from. People tend to expose themselves to the information that confirms their bias. As we continued, the underlying optimism or pessimism of people became apparent, with the majority sounding more pessimistic.

As we continued, the underlying emotions of fear and frustration surfaced – fear of losing something, fear of South Africa becoming another Zimbabwe, frustration with the slowness of land redistribution, frustration with the government, with business, with corruption, with pessimists who complain but do not act. A lack of certainty was seen as a possible cause of both emotions. This combination of voices was linked to immobilisation and helplessness.

A call to sacrifice gave us some food for thought: “We all want to win everything – we are stuck. We aren’t winning – no-one can take everything home. The reality is that some sacrifices have to be made for the greater good on both sides. No-one wants to make those sacrifices. I, as a black person, need to let go of my anger and pain. In reality there is nothing that white people can do that will appease the hurt and decimation of identity. We have had to build ourselves up again. White people need to let some of their fear go … and we all need to recognise that we do need each other.”

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