As this Jewish New Year approaches, I am reminded of the refuge, sanctuary and home that Africa gave to my grandparents approximately 100 years ago, as they fled the Pogroms in Ukraine.
America and Canada had turned us away!
We, the stranger, were welcomed to South Africa. And it was complex…
We were classified as white, as caucasian, and were swallowed into a complex colonial context that took advantage of the indigenous inhabitants and what was in fact stolen land.
We had nowhere else to go. This was now home. Through the love and comforts bestowed upon us, we the grandchildren and our children were protected from their trauma, pain and grief, yet legacy prevails in consciousness.
Apartheid was officially institutionalized in 1949, and as white classified my parents were among a privileged minority that reaped what is impossible to reconcile as reward, from an iniquitous and cruel system.
While we all know I cannot control the location of my birth, I cannot let that excuse the participation of my privilege. Though I know that my deep affection for the land of my birth, and its people, was not a concomitant of that privilege, but a reflection of the love bestowed on me by the very people who were so unjustly disenfranchised.
And now as the Jewish New Year and the Days of Awe invoke this reflection, I watch a world where over 100 million people have fled their homes and are in forced displacement, many with scant resources, scared, hungry and separated from loved ones. No one wants to be anywhere other than home and safe.
It is with this reflection, my gratitude, and my petition for forgiveness, that I implore and pray for peace, for climate health, for decriminalization of sexuality and gender identity, for reparation, and for all that forces people to flee, to resolve …….
In the meantime … let us nurture, protect and continue to welcome migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers into our hearts and homes.
May this New Year bring hope and change and happiness.
FROM ALL OF US AT AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COALITION WE THANK YOU FOR THE LOVE AND SUPPORT AND
WE WISH YOU
Melanie Nathan and Team
African Human Rights Coalition