Global leaders share wisdom on unity


South Africa’s first Anti-Racism Week starts on 14 March and ends on Human Rights Day, 21 March. It comes from various civil society organisations, with the aim of uniting South Africans and celebrating our commonalities. We look back on inspiring leaders, and what they have said about unity.

unite south africaSouth Africa’s first Anti-Racism Week runs from 14 to 21 March 2016, ending on Human Rights Day. (Image: Brand South Africa)

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Today, 14 March, is the start of the inaugural Anti-Racism Week in South Africa.

The initiative comes from the newly established Anti-Racism Network South Africa (Arnsa) and is a mechanism to deal with racism in the country.

Spearheaded by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the network was launched in November 2015 and is made up of approximately 80 civil society organisations and government institutions.

“People of different religions and cultures live side by side in almost every part of the world, and most of us have overlapping identities which unite us with very different groups,” said former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. “We can love what we are, without hating what – and who – we are not. We can thrive in our own tradition, even as we learn from others, and come to respect their teachings.”

His words ring true for South Africa too.

When struggle veteran Kathrada addressed a special sitting of the UN two years ago, he called for a global response to racism – a “Greenpeace of anti-racism” he called it. “The ideal would be to strive towards creating a global anti-racism network to focus on anti-racism education training in all schools across the world,” he said.

Kathrada believes Arnsa is the start of such a movement.

To commemorate Anti-Racism Week, we read the words of global leaders who support a world beyond race.

Robert Sobukwe quoteAcademic, lawyer and founder of the Pan-Africanist Congress Robert Sobukwe was vocal that there was only one human race. (Image: SABC)

Kofi Annan quoteFormer United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on humans to love each other. (Image: Unesco, Facebook)

Martin Luther King quoteAmerican Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian and a leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, used non-violent civil disobedience as a means to build a non-racial society. (Image: Unesco, Facebook)

Nelson Mandela quoteNelson Mandela famously said love came more naturally than hate. (Image: Unesco, Facebook)

Swami Vivekananda quoteIndian Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda celebrated humanity’s oneness. (Image: Unesco, Facebook)