Will We Ever Learn?

Dumisile Mtambo (Zimbabwe, UWC AC 2011-2013)

The year 1994 brought to the world a new era to South Africa, in which reverence and hope was shared amongst the people who for the first time in a gruesome history of injustices and hatred exacted upon particular members of our worldly society, sought to coexist as a community that prides itself in its diversity. The ‘rainbow nation’ – as it is called, rose from this dream that was shared and it was so with the revolutionary feats achieved all over the world regarding the rights that mankind in whatever situation who fought and became agitators who sought out change. From all these countless examples of the audacity that resides in humanity, translating into the winds of change that blow into effect that bravery, one ultimately tends to wonder – when will the time come for us to stop fighting?

The UWC mission embodies the very foundations of many civil, human, social rights movements that ran throughout the course of our history. Nelson Mandela, an honorary president of the United World Colleges world over is one of many key instigators of these awe-inspiring movements. It is often said that the history of a people shapes its present and the roots of the future to come. With this seemingly profound knowledge that mankind has garnered for itself one should always be critically engaged in questioning our learning bit – are we really learning from history or better still are we learning from our mistakes? George Bernard Shaw, renowned playwright whose works were nearly always centred on the ailments of society that we today term as ‘mistakes’ of particular significance as he said, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” This statement has not only resonated amongst the foremost intellectuals of the world but also certainly captures the idea of experience and that humans in their quest to find a way of life suitable for all will make errors but will also learn from these errors. The question is, when are we as mankind going to learn from our mistakes or utilise the history of our people to rectify our misgivings in society today? Have we truly experienced the fruits of what revolutionaries like Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s fought against i.e. the injustices of racial ostracism when today hate crime are rife in so many areas of the world in which freedom is said to be guaranteed for all?

The naivety of rallying behind these movements without actual thought as to their implications in society especially not recognising the lessons that we have to learn from these instances is the sad truth that mankind has to realise in order to have a real  effect in the world as opposed to blindly applauding their efforts without the realisation that society is required to act on advances in the areas of human rights. We have to ensure that the fight will come to a halt one day such that we enjoy the fruits of our forefather’s labour. This might sound like the wishful daydreaming for the existence of Utopia but we should all ask ourselves what’s better, the wishing for a better tomorrow or the reality of ignoring what our mistakes try to teach us?

-United Words team-


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