LEAVE CHRISTIANS AND CHRISTMAS ALONE
One wonders why there have been rumblings about the observance of Christmas as a public holiday in South Africa. Very many countries observe and celebrate the holiday.
First it was the Department of Home Affairs that felt like doing away with this special day to those of us who worship Christ. The debate ended nowhere and the matter was put to rest.
The Commission on the Protection and Promotion of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic rights was established to do just that to protect and promote whichever and whatever is already available. There is no mention of reduction of any of the cultural, religious and linguistic rights.
Public holidays like the entire constitution are the product of a negotiated settlement.
While there is an outcry that South Africa has many holidays, there is no justification for doing away with any of the two Christian holidays, Christmas and Good Friday.
Fact is that the holidays are not being observed as intended – some and very many people go braaing on those days, some go shopping while others seek different types of entertainment. It therefore goes to say there is no threat posed by the retention of Christmas as a holiday.
In the compromise reached during the negotiations for public holidays, Ascension Day was obliterated from the calendar in South Africa. Christians are striving to observe the day by taking leave from work to attend their respective services. They take this in their stride and do not call for the cancellation of some holiday to make way for that.
We call on all South Africans to be tolerant of one another and not view others with envy or a feeling of them being more privileged.
If we live in a democracy, it has to be borne in mind that the latest census indicate that over 80% of all South Africans are Christians; they therefore deserve a lion’s share of what the country has to offer but they understand that they should live and let live. They are not calling for their pound of flesh by virtue of their numbers.
The CRL commission should do all in their might to put it to the nation and those who complain that we need to live side by side and be tolerant of one another.
As much as we differ in our outlook to issues, we shall continue to differ in the way we do our business.
Christianity is by no way favoured or privileged above other religions.
I learnt one thing from the late C N Lekalake, one of the great sons of Africa, the former president of the African Teachers Association of South Africa. As young teachers and inspectors of schools in the erstwhile Bophuthatswana in asking for an increase on emoluments we would always base our requests for such increases by using emoluments of colleagues in the then Department of Education and Training as our benchmark.
Lekalake would argue that we should be original and not compare ourselves to other people. He would argue that we should approach our department with our own research and needs without citing what was done next door. Just ask for what you need without saying somebody is being treated better.
We therefore call on all those who feel they need more holidays to do so independently of the Christian ones. They should state their case without prejudicing the others or sounding like they envy them. If they state their needs for more holidays or whatever without complaining about what the others have they will be playing their own game according to their needs.
Let us be content with what we have and hope that the book or matter on the reduction of whichever holidays will be a closed for good.
Sent by: Sipho Mfundisi MP