Reconciliation and Travel

I am amused by the public holiday in South Africa, called Day of Reconciliation. Whenever visitors to our country want to find out more about South African culture, it opens the door to truly travel our land. It is difficult to fit the full cultural experience into one visit as this country has so many tribes, all rich in culture!

So how do South Africans partake in the Day of Reconciliation at heart, what do they tell their children? We live a life very different to those that lived here over 100 years ago and in history terms, 100 years is not that long ago!

Today’s post is my version of how I see Reconciliation related to Travel. War stories are gruesome and cruel but they are a part of history and something we should not ignore, only because I do not want history to repeat itself. If we can openly discuss what happened, no matter where you are from or what your beliefs, only then, can we truly experience Reconciliation.

How can we reconcile with the San or “Bushmen”? Nearly every African tribe and European settler had something to do with the annihilation of their race. Do I thank the Dutch East Indian Company for bringing my husbands’ ancestors to this country and applaud the Voortrekkers for taking on Die Groot Trek, fighting the Zulu’s and British and establishing the Boers so that I could meet my husband, a descendant of theirs? Shall I thank the English for their Colonialism and ships that brought my descendants from Scotland and England to South Africa? Shall I thank Shaka Zulu for establishing such a proud and hard-working culture, from whom descendants now live and taught me their language, and is there a way for me to understand why Dingaan would kill him? What happened to blood being thicker than water? My life is now touched by the Pedi and Sesotho tribes who tell me of the medicinal plants that grow freely for our benefit and they tell stories of how they made San children their slaves, how their children became slaves on settlers farms and how they became a part of life and death in the concentration camps alongside their employers.

We need to reconcile everyday of our lives and travel opens your eyes to see each culture for who they really are, why they are there and what their dreams are for their future. Travel by tribes and settlers is how South Africa came to be. We need to take reconciliation to the next level and acknowledge travel to be the reason for everything – explorers, messengers, battles, rallies, marches, travel is how word gets out whether it be in person, by note or even via cyberspace.

In closing, my request to each foreigner that visits this Southern country on the African continent, is not to blame anyone for anything done in the past, but rather to examine today and realise the hope tomorrow holds if we do the best for our land, its plants, animals and people so that the history we become is in our descendants best interest.

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