Clive Simpkins: Zuma is right, reconciliation requires redress

By Clive Simpkins

Clive SimpkinsI read Alec Hogg’s comments this morning about Jacob Zuma suggesting that redress is the other side of the reconciliation coin. Alec concluded by saying, ‘Hau, Baba.’ But I believe Zuma has a point. I’ve watched ‘black Twitter’ vs. ‘white Twitter’ on this issue for several years now. It remains an understandably acrimonious sticking point.

I wondered if I’d misunderstood the import of ‘redress’. So I lazily googled it. And here’s what surfaced. Synonyms:     rectify, correct, put/set/make right, right, put to rights, compensate for, sort out, deal with, amend, remedy, repair, fix, cure, heal, make good, reform, harmonise, retrieve, improve, better, ameliorate, adjust, resolve, settle, square.

I put myself in the shoes of a Holocaust or Rwandan genocide or other person on the receiving end of some terrible social injustice. And much though I detest the man for myriad reasons, I believe Zuma is right. The lack of redress (no – it’s not vengeance) is the reason so many black South Africans feel that Nelson Mandela ‘sold them out’.

‘Closure’ is an awfully overused word. But if you’re a black person who suffered indignities and also materially under apartheid, how would you explain ‘reconciliation’ to your children? Would it be a case of just accepting the evil and (assuming you had a large heart) forgiving it? Or would it be easier to say, ‘white people are compensating us for our deprivation, humiliation and suffering in the following manner…’?

In my book, just apologising for something I’ve done wrong, is insufficient. I believe it’s reasonable for the other person to expect some sort of overture or recompense if they’ve lost, suffered or been caused inconvenience by my actions. The question is simple but very vexing to answer: ‘what would that recompense look, feel, sound or be like? That remains to be resolved. I have asked many people on black Twitter that question. I still don’t have a clear answer. But we owe it to those who suffered under apartheid to find one.

* Clive Simpkins is a communciations strategist. You can follow him on twitter at @clivesimpkins. His website is

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