Editorial Comment – February 2008

January 30 marked the 60th anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Satyagraha observed the day, along with many other people throughout the world, with prayers. The anniversary of Kasturba Gandhi’s death in detention will also be marked by prayer. On 22 February 1944 Kasturba Gandhi passed away while being held in detention at the Aga Khan Palace in Pune. She was a brave stalwart in her own right and has left a legacy for millions of women working in the various Kasturba Ashrams all over India.

Once again the ideas of nonviolent resistance and compassion are brought before the public arena. The legacy of nonviolence and Satyagraha has been entrenched in South Africa and we have seen its impact on the mass democratic struggles of our people. Yet today 14 years after a democratic order was established in South Africa, we experience violence both at the level of criminal activities as well as at the level of civil society protests. Is it not strange that knowing that we are the owners of public property we disrespect public property to the extent of causing willful destruction? The burning of the trains, destruction of university property by disgruntled students and setting fire on the streets and in schools because of disagreements about provincial boundaries are just a few examples of recent violent actions. 

Yet there is no doubt that violence will only harm us. Its after affects are felt by the poor workers who cannot commute in the trains, the students who have no proper schools, universities or tertiary education institutions. Civil society will have to suffer further because funds have to be diverted to repairs and buying new equipment. 

Such lack of respect for public property and for people will no doubt haunt us for years to come.   At a time when we celebrate the lives of heroes such as Steve Biko, Rick Turner, Yunus Mohamed and others we can only appeal to the youth to learn from our heroes of the past. 

It is therefore important that we once again bring to the fore our proud heritage and remind the youth of today that true freedom can only be enjoyed when we begin to conserve and respect what we have, continue to strive for what is rightfully ours, and demonstrate against injustices and oppression  through constructive nonviolent means. 

February is also a month when we look at our health and this issue we focus on the heart and the need for us to take care now so that we can live a better life in the future. We are currently experiencing major problems with electricity shortages and while pointing fingers and trying to find the culprits maybe important it is also important for us to learn conservation and inculcate good habits so that we can help in reducing the use of electricity. Some important energy saving tips are contained in this edition. We invite readers to express their views and share with us innovative ways in which they are able to help in reducing the use of electricity.   Let us be proudly South Africans and observe the rules of true democracy that states together with rights come responsibilities.