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Saturday, November 27, 2004

CRL Report



Dr Mongezi Guma – Chairperson (CRL Commission)

Since developing its Strategic Plan in January 2004, the CRL Commission embarked on outreach programs during the year through mini-conferences, both rural and urban, in all nine provinces bringing together representatives of South Africa’s diverse cultural, religious and linguistic communities. The purpose of these conferences was two-fold; to introduce the Commission nationwide to these diverse communities and to collect information about communities’ expectations of the role that the Commission, in partnership with these communities, can play in nation building by promoting peace, friendship, humanity, tolerance and national unity within and among all communities.

This was done through interaction and dialogue between the Commissioners and the representatives of the diverse communities as well as conducting surveys in the various official languages. The surveys sought information regarding identity, culture, religion and languages. Respondents also rank ordered in terms of priority their expectations of the Commission and of the National Consultative Conference as well as the most important issues or challenges to be addressed in nation building after ten years of democracy and freedom.

The significance of this study is that it is timely in providing information from the diverse cultural, religious and linguistic communities a decade after the dawn of democracy in South Africa after a traumatic 350 year history of colonization and apartheid. It is also timely as the study was conducted in a society that embarked on a process of rapid social transformation based on a constitution that guarantees equality to all South Africa’s diverse cultural, religious and linguistic communities. The results of the study will be made known to the South African Nation at the National Consultative Conference (NCC) held in Durban in Nov-Dec 2004. It is hoped that this study will contribute to a better understanding on the road to nation building.

A quantitative analysis was done of the multiple choice questions while a qualitative analysis was done of the open-ended questions. The limitations on this study is the research area to questions regarding the status and respect that people have for the diverse identities, cultures, religions and languages in South Africa as well as expectations of the CRL Commission and the National Consultative Conference.

While 405 surveys were recorded in this study many surveys were spoiled and discarded as this kind of research was new to most respondents. Many felt that completing the surveys was like taking an examination while those who could not read or write, had to get assistance from friends to complete the surveys. Some did not return their surveys while others felt confronted and upset about responding to the question regarding identity, given the historic identity crisis that South Africans suffer from when they have to use skin colour to identify themselves. Not all surveys were returned and this report is therefore a preliminary report for the purposes of reporting to the National Consultative Conference. A more comprehensive and final report will be finalized in due course for the records and archives of the Commission.

The report first deals with the quantitative analysis of the data to get an overall picture of the responses and then focus on the qualitative analysis of the information.

The first question of the survey was about the organization or community represented in terms of culture, religion of language. The majority of representatives were from cultural organizations.

The second question dealt with the provincial responses to the survey and is as follows.

To the question: “How do you prefer to identify yourself?” the vast majority of responses were based on citizenship: South African. Only a few chose artificial identities based on skin colour. There were only a few responses in this regard.

The fourth question was about the culture of the respondents with the most represented by the Khoe-San, followed by Xhosa, Zulu, other and Afrikaners.

Question 5 dealt with people’s respect in general for the respondent’s culture.

Question 6 dealt with current status of the respondent’s culture

Question 7 dealt with religion. The vast majority of the respondents were Christians followed by African religion:

Question 8 dealt with people’s respect in general for the respondent’s religion.

Question 9 dealt with current status of the respondent’s religion as follows:

Question 10 refers to the respondent’s language and the responses were as follows: most respondents spoke Afrikaans, followed by isiXhosa, isiZulu and Sesotho.

Question 11 deals with people’s respect for the respondents language. The results are as follows:

Question 12 wanted to know the status of the respondent’s language:

The charts give a clear picture of the respondents in terms of identity, culture, religion and languages. Now that we have the overall picture of the demographics of these diverse communities we now further report on what they have been saying to the Commission at these mini-conferences.

The results of the qualitative analysis involves the open-ended questions regarding respondents expectations of the CRL Commission with regard to the role the Commission will play in partnership with civil society and the government in nation building.

The issue of identity was profound to those South Africans who in the apartheid past accepted artificial identities based on skin colour as a given. Many respondents had great difficulty to answer the question: “How do you prefer to identify yourself?” and “What is your culture?” It suddenly felt uncomfortable to refer to skin colour for your identity and culture. The identity crisis was evident in the complaints against these questions. Many declined to respond while others took the survey home with them to avoid the embarrassment. “If I write Indian its means I belong to Indian not South Africa”, said one respondent. “If I write English, I belong to England”, retorted another. This resulted in as many as 98 respondents identifying themselves as South African while 11 simply identified themselves as “human beings”. Only 8 stated that they were “coloureds”, 5 were “whites” and 1 “black”. The rest identified themselves according to their culture/language and some according to their religion as Christian, Jewish or Muslim.

An elderly woman in the Western Cape who always regarded herself as “white”, claimed that the identity question frightens her. She has “blood” relatives from many different cultures, religions and languages. She does not want to go back to her origins in Europe, because she is a South African. “Why is the Commission bringing back the past with such questions? This survey has unintentional consequences that will cause more damage than good”. She is worried that the Commission is starting something with outcomes that cannot be controlled. “To identify myself means that I do not belong anywhere. I am not part of the new South Africa. This is an identity crisis for me”, she concluded.

For the purpose of this report, the focus will be on two issues, namely the people’s expectations of the National Consultative Conference in Durban and the most important issues to be addressed.

Expectations of the National Consultative Conference
The National Consultative Conference (NCC) is regarded as a major exercise to promote nation building in bringing together the diverse cultural, religious and linguistic communities. The NCC should promote peace, friendship and tolerance amongst all communities and link all South Africans to promote cultural, religious and linguistic tolerance. The NCC ought to lead communities towards appreciating diversity under one flag and to promote cohesion and commonality with team enhancement among the delegates.

The aim of the NCC should be to create awareness of and mutual respect amongst all cultures, religions and languages in South Africa. The NCC ought to create understanding about each others’ roots and to create strategies for South Africanness awareness. In this regard the CRL Commission should provide the Commission’s materials in simple texts so that anybody can understand.

The NCC should bring all groups closer together in relation to culture, language and religion. The delegates to the NCC must reflect the demography of the country. The NCC should enable South Africans to raise their fears and aspirations in public. This should inspire the people of this land to acknowledge who they are and to explore what they have and then to create space for the other.

The NCC should look at common problems in the country and then make recommendations to government. The NCC should therefore promote integration and advance national unity.
The NCC activities should also include the following: To come up with ways of rallying people in support of its objectives; to develop innovative ways of sharing information about culture and practices and to recognise and to ensure that the knowledge of the elderly is captures and written down.

The NCC should create clear terms of reference for the Commission and develop a common program to inform the work of the Commission. The NCC should set practical targets and to create a plan of action. To resolve all the challenges facing South Africa through developing a plan of action the NCC should draft a South African Declaration on Culture, Language and Religion.
The NCC should secure the presence of “Belungu” white – both English and Afrikaans. The NCC should decide on critical research focuses and develop a system of monitoring progress with promoting language, culture and religion.

The NCC should identify all ‘operative’ and ‘non-operative’ cultures and strive to unite different cultures in order to promote a multicultural society. The NCC should develop strategies to make decision-makers aware of the diverse needs of different cultures and demonstrate respect for all cultures and traditions. Communities should put their cultures and religions on the map. South African communities must learn that cultures, religions and languages are equal. All cultures should be able to showcase their traditional attire and exhibit artifacts at the NCC. At the NCC encourage people to dress according to who they are and arrange seating so as not to overlook anyone. The discussion should not separate culture from religion.

The NCC should showcase religion as the backbone of human life and strive to prevent harm being done to the public by any religion. The NCC should give all religions equal opportunities to participate and look at issues common to the CRL Commission and the Movement for Moral Regeneration. The NCC should provide literature to promote the understanding of different faiths and to facilitate meaningful participation. The NCC should develop strategies on building from the bottom up and develop a comprehensive program of action. The NCC should get the right direction without fighting to avoid South Africa becoming another Rwanda. The Commission should promote tolerance through the media and help to restore morality at schools. Religious practices must be respected in state hospitals.

The Commission should use all South Africa’s languages to communicate at the NCC. People should speak about their language to encourage multilingualism. People should learn to greet each other in their respective languages. The NCC should present all languages and cultures equally and resolve to make all languages more user-friendly and to use them in official documentation.
There could be advertising in various languages at the NCC.

The NCC should secure recognition for all unrecognized languages and to advance them to the same status as other official languages. The data should be collected on historically diminished languages which have not been written down. The NCC should make former resolutions about printing in Braille and in using sign language to also respond to the needs of these communities.
To show the significance of every South African language; to protect the use of every language and its values; to produce a detailed national plan of action in respect of the protection of language, culture and religion

The NCC must involve young people and include youth activities. Young people must be taught to respect their cultures. Talent in Mpumalanga should be explored including the young fashion designers should be recognized.

The NCC should give the Commission a mandate to address the issue of the Kings and traditional leaders at the Conference. The NCC need to discuss the leadership of marginalised groups and the
fact that rural development is occurring slowly; The NCC should organize for the accreditation of African indigenous health practitioners - Traditional healers must be respected. The Commission should develop an agreement between traditional healers and pastors. The NCC should announce progress in respect of grievances received.

The NCC should have the opportunity to introduce the !Xham San Association to the country. Hindu children should be allowed time off for religious festivals. The the Indian community in the Eastern Cape is not marginalised by bureaucratic dogma. The NCC should assist us to expand the broadcasting of Radio Lotus to the Eastern Cape. The NCC should facilitate the advance of Southern Ndebele where it is not the dominant language. The NCC should promote the provision of education in Southern Ndebele through satellite or through a Ndebele College of Education and a technical college near Siyabuswa. The NCC should secure respect for Siswati and for our culture.
The Commission should gain recognition for Siswati at the SABC radio and TV. The issues that must be discussed at the NCC especially the dominance of two languages on TV.

The outcome should be that all South Africans must have respect and all nationals must come together and do the right thing. The NCC determine practical solutions to the challenges with time frames to establish community-based programs. The CRL Commission should share information with all areas in good time and consolidate a structure that will benefit all South Africans, will be competent and decisive and that will be representative to the grassroots.

There should be consultation with the created structures and these should become engaged in activities that will be sustained, monitored and corrected where necessary. The stakeholders who participated in setting up the provincial steering committees should be involved and helped to prepare adequately and provided with transport and accommodation. The NCC should bring on board more people and present the inputs from stakeholders. The NCC should produce documents to cover all the aspects addressed in the conference to ensure that all stakeholders are kept informed timeously.

Mini conference plenary discussions as well as questionnaire surveys in the different provinces yielded a number of important needs to be addressed by the CRL Commission. These can be grouped into 8 themes as follows:

1. Transformation and Nation building.

The CRL Commission is urged to pursue and deepen the process of transformation of South African life by ensuring that justice and equity obtain at all levels of society, especially in State Institutions. For example, one group must not be given preference over others in government. Past imbalances and inequities must be addressed. A South African patriotism must be promoted, with South Africa finding its place in continent and contributing to African unity.

2. Reconciliation.

By encouraging the respect, recognition and protection of cultural, linguistic and religious groups, the CRL Commission must seek the reconciliation of the diverse communities in South Africa. Forgiveness, change and acceptance of difference must be embraced . The CRL Commission must actively participate in conflict transformation and resolution.

3. Recognition and promotion.

Cultural and heritage days and events must be a part of the celebration of our new South Africanism. Different cultures, languages and religions must be recognized and affirmed. Especially in state or para state institutions such as schools and SABC, the different official languages must be promoted. The Khoi Language must be included among the official languages.
Indigenous literary and art works must be promoted.

4. Capacity-Building and Facilitation.
Budget and other support for the initiatives and projects CRL communities must be made, with clear criteria. Communities must be encouraged to develop their CRL heritage, and encouraged to participate.

5. Access to the CRL Commission.
The commission must be accessible to communities down to provincial and village levels. Communication and feed back to communities on CRL Commission’s progress is desirable. Formal structures of the commission must be set up at community levels to enable access.

6. Advocacy.
The CRL commission is called upon to advocate against the assault by media on people’s culture, religion and language. Media avenues, particularly community radio stations must be made available for CRL communities. The CRL Commission must manage and monitor the legislative framework as it impinges on Culture, religion and language. For instance the Department of Health’s relations with traditional healers, or Pastors relations with traditional healers.

7. Education.
There is a need for South Africans to be educated on the cultures, religions and languages of the peoples of the country. The Khoisan genocide is an example of some of the unknown or hidden history of South Africa. These stories must be told in order to educate the communities.
The gains for CRL communities that are enshrined in the constitution must be communicated to communities as part of an ongoing education programme. Workshops, booklets and programmes to transmit cultural, religious and linguistic issues must be explored. We need to find ways of including youth in CRL Commission’s issues , as well as ensuring the effective transmission of indigenous knowledge in the 21st century.

8. The CRL Commission and Nation building

A national CRL charter is needed to strengthen national pride, ubuntu and moral regeneration by enlisting the spirituality of CRL communities.


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