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South Africa’s birthday party that isn’t

May 31, 2010

It is exactly one hundred years today since the formation of the Union of South Africa, but there are no signs of celebration over that. SPORT SOCCER WORLDWhat exactly is the Union, you might ask? On May 31 1910, the southern part of Africa that is today known as the Republic of South Africa became a unitary state under British dominion in pretty much the geographical shape which exists to this day.

Given that for most South Africans, history from 1910 until the end of white minority rule in 1994 was one of exclusion and oppression there may be understandable reasons why it is not a date to be accompanied by mass celebrations.

 But is that any reason why it should be forgotten? Hasn’t South Africa changed enough in 16 years that all races could see it as an important enough date in their common history to want to mark it?

 Giving his State of the Nation speech earlier this year, President Jacob Zuma noted the upcoming anniversary and the fact that the exclusion of black people in the Union led to the formation of the African National Congress in 1912. 

“We should reflect on how far we have travelled as a country,” he said..

 But is anybody really doing that with the soccer World Cup just 10 days away? And is it a day that South Africans should recognize as part of their collective history?  Like them or not, there is no escaping the facts of South Africa’s history.

Happy Union Day if it means anything to you.

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