Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

There's a very interesting article in Sunday's Observer regarding the upcoming D-Day commemorations in France. It's written by a writer from German newspaper De Welt, Thomas Kielinger, who laments the fact that the ongoing remembrances of WWII does not allow Germans to escape their past, almost two generations after the war. Whilst I agree with his sentiment, especially since this is the first year that a German leader has been invited to the commemorations, what interested me was a comment he makes on the stunted patriotism that Germans feel for their country, which he hypothesises is a direct result of "this curse of the visual record of inhumanity perpetrated lurking on the sidelines as if it happened only the other day".

This strikes me as a very interesting insight. As white South African youth, whilst not having been old enough to hold an understanding of, or an influence on, the Apartheid system, we have grown up with a distinct consciousness of our own race, and its position in the atrocities of the past. Is this perhaps a reason for the lack of true patriotism I see daily from white youth in South Africa? An underlying sense of shame about the country's past, which infers that they cannot truly believe themselves to be part of, and hence proud of, their country?