ZAM Reporter

“I am not a multi-cultural drama”

At AEF Live!, the annual come together of the consultancy firm and sponsor of the lecture on June 13, 2019 in Utrecht, Asante and Helberg reflected on the event. As a starting point for the chat, moderated by Sandra Rottenberg, both choose a quote from Sisonke Msimang’s speech which was entitled: ‘Rescuing Mandela from Sainthood.’

Asante’s choice here.
Helberg’s choice here.

Why do white people so often only feel empathy with white people, Asante wondered in response to Msimang's words. Why was it that, until recently, protest against racist caricatures, such as the campaign against Zwarte Piet, still being labelled as "terrorist" by the authorities? Scared of hate speech and insulting remarks, Asante does not wear golden earrings around the Sinterklaas celebration, neither does she stick her lips too red.

Helberg is delighted by the growing movement against racism. “The idea that black people are violent is widespread. But I've never seen black people lynch white people. 

Asante and Helberg translated Msimang's words into the situation in the Netherlands and Europe with great ease. They also agreed with Msimang's statement that the reproach that Mandela is a "sell out" who is all too easily sold his soul to the white devil is incorrect. "Mandela made compromises without losing sight of the ultimate goal of social justice." In general, deeply ingraoned racial stereotypes are increasinly discussed and attacked in the public debate. Helberg said he was deeply touched by Sisonke Msimang’s statement, in South Africa and elsewhere, that reconciliation should never be in the way of social justice.

Sometimes a true leader walks ahead of the troops, Rottenberg recalled from the lecture. "Mandela entered into a conversation with his enemies without initially consulting his comrades about it." If those initial contacts, already in the mid-eighties, would have failed, his comrades could always blame Mandela and say: We knew nothing. ”It’s an example of playing politics in the highest category.”

Penetrating into the ideas of the other and not shy away from understanding the other - it is the only way to move forward. Asante: "Someone like Paul Scheffer, the political scientist who declared our search for commonality a ‘multicultural drama’ does not understand that. On the streets you saw our society change, but he kept the curtains closed. For the record: "I am not a multicultural drama."