The Democratic Alliance (DA)’s national spokesperson, Mmusi Maimane, has written a letter offering two models (Jessica Leandra dos Santos and Tshidi Thamana) who recently tweeted their racist thoughts help. Published below is the unedited letter from Maimane:
Dear Jessica and Tshidi,
I read your tweets over the last couple of days and, like so many other South Africans, I am angry and disappointed at the naked display of racism I saw.
I know that you have both apologised, and I commend you for that. But the damage has been done. Divisions are wider than they were before. The efforts of Nelson Mandela and so many others to reconcile our nation have been dealt a severe blow.
I am in what might have been called under apartheid a ‘mixed marriage’. Under that regime my marriage would have been illegal. The state would have punished my wife and I just for being in love with each other.
The new South Africa changed all that. We are free to love whoever we want whether they are of a different race or whether they are of the same gender. Our Constitution guarantees this as an inalienable right.
But this doesn’t mean that my wife and I don’t get stared at when we hold hands in public. And I know that, one day, our daughter will have to deal with racist bigots who can’t accept that her parents don’t have the same skin colour.
I understand that we are all shaped to a greater or lesser extent by the environment we grow up in. I don’t believe that either of you are truly racist – I think you just lost your way somewhere along the line.
As role models, you now have an unprecedented opportunity to show South Africa what true reconciliation is all about. I believe you would do South Africa a great service if the two of you were to meet up and talk through your issues in person.
I would be happy to host you both at my home. I am proud to say that it is a place of love and tolerance, a place where people leave their prejudice at the door.
You can either tweet me (@MaimaneAM) or give me a call. I’d be happy to hear from you.
But whatever you do, do something to get South Africa believing in itself again. Make a gesture that unites South Africans against racism.
Let’s recreate the spirit of reconciliation that was Madiba’s gift to all of us.