Politicians, religious leaders and social commentators have all spoken about a breakdown in morality in South Africa, with crime as the most commonly cited evidence. The lack of respect for the sanctity of human life, for the next person, private property, disregard for the law of the land, lack of parental control over children, and the general blurring of the lines between right and wrong are continuing to plague our communities. To communicate my opinion on the controvercial subject of moral degeneration, I would like to refer to the roots of this dilemma.
Even though we as the post-Apartheid teenagers tend to roll our eyes at the mere mentioning of the word, we must acknowledge the influence it has had on the moral decay of our generation. Apartheid was an inhuman and immoral system imposed by force upon the people. They suffered arbitrary arrest, detention without trail, banning, torture, poisoning, persecution, extralegal executions, enforced removals of whole communities, and indoctrination by unending propaganda. The family life of millions of South Africans was damaged or destroyed. And in the process the very meaning of morality was debased.
These enforcements were carried out by an army of police, soldiers, civil servants, and supposedly supported by faith communities. Now, ten years into a democratic South Africa, how can faith communities who misused their prophetic role under Apartheid be seen as moral authorities after Apartheid? How can a justice system that allowed the unjust brutalization of the majority of the population be seen as an instrument of justice in a new millenium? Of course, control of these institutions is changing, even if slowly, and that will help. But the bigger question remains: can these societal institutions help contribute to the genuine reconciliation that South Africa needs to emerge from the shadow of Apartheid?
As rural poverty and starvation push millions of people out of rural and into urban communities, people migrate...