Durban: The leadership of eThekwini Municipality wishes all Hindu residents a Happy Diwali. We hope this year’s festival of lights will bring peace and prosperity to all the citizens of the city.
Let us use this time to pause to reflect on how we can build a strong and united nation as envisioned by our struggle icon and first democratically-elected leader President Nelson Mandela. Madiba’s vision was to build bridges and establish bonds that bring together people from different backgrounds under the spirit of Ubuntu.
Madiba’s dream was captured beautifully when he said, and I quote: “It is not our diversity which divides us; it is not our ethnicity, or religion or culture that divides us. Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us between those who cherish democracy and those who do not.”
Following the July civil unrest, racial divisions were laid bare in some of our communities as neighbours looked at each other with suspicion based on a person’s race. This resulted in unfortunate incidents of people losing their lives.
In response, we have worked with various stakeholders, including faith-based organisations, community structures, academia, and business to restore order. We are saying we must make the rebuilding process a collective effort so that we secure a brighter tomorrow for future generations.
As we join our fellow citizens in this important celebration in the Hindu calendar, we are reminded that we are one people with a common task to build a more cohesive and united nation. Our unity is made even stronger by the recognition that our cultural diversity makes us strong and unique as South African.
We must also remember that while our Covid-19 infection figures have been reduced, this virus is still around. When families gather to celebrate the triumph of light over dark and good over evil, we must do so under the stipulated health protocols by observing social distance, wearing masks, and washing hands.
We also urge community members to take advantage of the government’s programme, which has made vaccines available at different sites in our localities. This is the only way we are going to get back to normal life and turn the tide against the spread of this invisible enemy.
While Diwali is a time for celebration, it is also an opportunity to reach out to the needy in our communities. Therefore, we must be the light that brings hope to those who have suffered during Covid-19 and the less fortunate in our city.
We wish you and your families happiness and prosperity during this time of celebration. Happy Diwali.
*Mxolisi Kaunda, eThekwini Municipality mayor*