A Product of Black History

February 17, 2022

We must accept that Black History is inextricably intertwined with the history of the world. It may not be accurately depicted in the history books, but it has and always will be reflected in our culture, our daily lives and how we perceive the world. Our experiences have shaped our past and will continue to shape our future. However, the success of our future is dependent on how successful we are in breaking those bonds of the past.

My bondage began as a little boy in grade 3. In the first history lesson of my life, the first line in our history textbook read… “In 1652, the white man brought civilization to South Africa….”. Thus began my indoctrination. A history lesson that was read by a non-white teacher, from a book written by a white historian to a class full of impressionable, young non-white minds.

After that class I remember thinking to myself that we should be grateful to the white man for saving us from living an uncivilized life in the jungle. I believed that they were the superior race, and we need to be subservient and respect them for what they have given us. This is the mindset that I carried for the next ten years until I had the opportunity to travel overseas and as a teenager interacted with white people for the first time in my life. I realized then that they were not superior human beings. Like us not understanding them, they were also ignorant of our culture, our way of life and most importantly, they were not aware of our level of intelligence. Once we got to truly know each other, the cloud of ignorance that bonded us in hate, began to dissipate. When I returned to South Africa, this enlightening experience inspired me to become actively involved with the student anti-apartheid movement. I believed that we needed to make everyone aware that at the end of the day we are all one people. There is no inferior race on this planet. We all just want to be accepted as equals and to be treated with respect.

A few years later when I returned to live in Canada, I continued to make Canadians aware of the suffering endured by people in other parts of the world and how appreciative we should all be for living in a country that has a “Charter of Rights and Freedoms”, were we all are equal under the law.

However, the more time I spent in the country and the more I became involved in the Canadian society, the more I became aware that some sections of society were treated more equal than others. Thus began my mission in Canada to confront discrimination whenever and wherever I encounter it. Education was a big part of that mission. When confronted with discriminatory behavior, I took the time to make people understand why behavior like that was offensive. I conducted workshops and delivered speeches to high school students, explaining the horrors of genocide, apartheid and slavery. I believe that the earlier we educate people on the indignity and suffering endured by the oppressed in our society, the easier it becomes to promote tolerance and understanding in the long term.

Today, the world that we live in is a much better place than the one that our ancestors lived in. It is because of the sacrifices that they had made to ensure that their descendants can avoid the same pain that they endured. Therefore, I am prepared to make as many sacrifices as needed to ensure that our next generation experiences less hate, discrimination, bigotry, racism, and harassment than we did. Together we can make our world a better place for all.

On Feb 10, 1990, Nelson Mandela was told that he would be released from Prison. His famous words outside his home in Soweto read: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

”Practice the vocabulary of Love – unlearn the language of hate and contempt” – Baba

Sam Padayachee
UNE National Equity Representative for Racialized Members