To deal with racism, address the root cause – Motlanthe

Former President, Kgalema Motlanthe said quality infrastructure can be used to promote racial integration in South Africa.

In an attempt to convey his message of how quality infrastructure can bring together different racial groups, Motlanthe related a story of the Blue Bulls playing a Super14 game at the newly renovated Orlando Stadium in Soweto, where white rugby fans had their first township experience.

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“Posters around Orlando Stadium were painted in blue and white – the official colours of the Blue Bulls – and when the fans arrived, they felt at home.” Motlanthe went on to explain how the white rugby fans then celebrated their province’s win at local taverns where they discovered that beer was much cheaper compared to outlets in suburbs.

The former president said it would not be possible to get rid of racial attitudes until the gap in infrastructure backlog is closed.

Motlanthe was speaking at the Reporting Race Conference that was hosted by the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and the Canadian High Commission.

Motlanthe encouraged journalists and those in attendance to come out of the conference with a toolkit for reporting on racism but said the toolkit should not contain conformity.

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The High Commissioner of Canada, Sandra McCardell said her country looked to South Africa on how to deal with racism because of the open and frank approach we have on the issue. McCardell also highlighted that racism and xenophobia were universal problems but commended South Africa for our unique way of dealing with it. “South Africa has a unique and credible voice to offer solutions when it comes to racism and xenophobia, simply because of the way they handle these issues,” she said.

Singer, Yvonne Chaka Chaka also shared her own life experience of racism. She said she personally defined racism as fear of the unknown. “Why should my skin colour make you feel uncomfortable or make you treat me differently?” the musician asked.

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