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Jakarta post

by Jennie S. Bev

 In 16 years after the apartheid ended in South Africa, Johannesburg has already become the host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This achievement has made Africa proud as it is the first time this continent has hosted a prestigious sporting event like this.

Historically speaking, South Africa has been colonized for 300 years by the English and the Dutch with 48 years of apartheid rule. In 16 short years, South Africa already built 1.1 million houses for the poor and has a rising number of middle class, although Caucasians still dominate the publicly traded companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

What an achievement unlike others. Something Indonesia should learn from and implement.

The movie Invictus played by Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon is a reminder of how deep Nelson Mandela’s reconciliation works have been carried out prior to and after the apartheid system collapsed.

Though no peacebuilding and reconciliation works are perfect, many things can be learned from Mandela and South Africa’s triumphant story.

First things first, violence breeds more violence. This is the principle of peacebuilding and reconciliation, which is key to South Africa’s impressive success story. A light-hearted inspiring anecdote that we can emulate is when Mandela was called by his prisoner’s number, 46664. He refused to respond to the prison guards. Instead, he demanded to be called by his name.

Such peaceful disobedience was similar to Rosa Parks who didn’t give her bus seat to a white person, on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, which triggered the Civil Rights Movement in the United States short after. Such a natural response to reject oppression is often forgotten.

After all, peace work involves philosophical, psychological, cultural, educational, policy making, legal and political concentrated efforts on both the individual and communal levels.

According to Johan Galtung, the founder of peace and conflict studies, violence can be categorized into direct violence, structural violence and cultural violence. Direct violence is defined as direct harm.

Structural violence refers to harm directly or indirectly undertaken by sociopolitical structures by depriving access to basic needs, such as ongoing poverty and neglect. Cultural violence is a form of cultural justification of direct and structural violence.

The antitheses of these three types of violence must be placed and implemented properly in society. South Africa so far is showing healthy signs of implementation of direct nonviolence, structural nonviolence and cultural nonviolence.

Abolition of the apartheid is an important form of direct nonviolence in South Africa. In Indonesia, an “apartheid” occurs in a more subtle manner, such as in segregated pluralism and s strong patriarchal culture. The antithesis of “segregated” pluralism is “integrated” pluralism, which we should strive for. In South Africa, distribution of resources has been increased considerably, which is evident in more than 1 million new houses for the poor and the rising middle class. In Indonesia, Papuans have been simmered in poverty while their natural resources are depleting due to irresponsible capitalistic interests.

Through his fascination with sports, Mandela’s dream of soccer is that it is used as a tool of deep cultural work in the field of cultural nonviolence. Psychological and emotional connections must be created between parties in conflict in order to preserve direct nonviolence and structural nonviolence.

And what’s better than using an activity that is as color blind as soccer. Genius.

The Dreamfields Project is a non-profit organization whose goal is socializing the positive aspects of playing soccer. It has given out 20,000 uniforms and pairs of shoes to give hope and a reason to excel to South African children. The dream of soccer has trickled down to the children and they are the leaders of the future.

Other than sport, the arts can also be used as strong and inspiring tools. Harvard political scientist Joseph Nye calls them “soft power” instruments. Indonesia owns tons of such tools that can be used to peacefully bridge differences, eradicate conflicts and foster a culture of nonviolence.

Jacques Derrida, a French philosopher, wrote about the politics of friendship, “What is proper or essential to friendship, can be thought and lived without the least reference to the beloved, or more generally to the lovable – in any case, without having to set out from there, as from a principle.” In a democracy, the notion of the politics of friendship lies in fraternity or brotherhood.

The love affair between South Africa and soccer is an advanced work of politics of fraternization. Politics is never separated from building relationships, which provides a valid framework for friendship to cultivate.

Invictus is one of Nelson Mandela’s favorite poems written by an English poet William Ernest Henley, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” We all are captains of our own fate and soul, so why succumb to violence?

Stand up and strive for nonviolence. Influence others to do the same, so Indonesia can have a success story like South Africa.[]

The Jakarta Post, June 20, 2010

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