SOUTH Africa and the United States are squabbling over the agenda for the United Nations-sponsored conference against racism
SOUTH Africa and the United States are squabbling over the agenda for the United Nations-sponsored conference against racism due later this month.
The US has threatened to boycott the conference in the S. African port city of Durban if measures to equate Zionism with racism and reparations for slavery are on the agenda.
It is interesting that these two nations should not see eye-to-eye, and it could be a reflection of how far they have come and how much they still have to do.
If there are any countries that should have anything to say on this subject, these two top the card, for they have common histories of institutionalised racism that they are still struggling with.
South Africa only took apartheid off its statutes less than ten years ago, while the US had segregation in schools and other social facilities as recently as the 1950s. The vestiges of both these systems still exist.
It is important that the conference, that will be attended by delegates from 194 countries, is as exhaustive as possible, for there is no society that is not affected by racial sentiment of some form or another.
Most countries are now more multi-cultural than ever before. Uganda, for instance, has substantial numbers of people of European and Asian origin, who still suffer the brunt of racist comments and attitudes. On the other hand, some of them still carry with them the condescending attitudes towards Africans.
That said, instead of getting bogged down in issues that are irrelevant, the UN conference - and specifically the key countries involved â€” should concentrate on matters that affect the daily lives of everybody on the globe. Reparations for slavery may be a point of contention, but they should not be a hurdle in the path of handling the larger problem of racism worldwide.