Avatar photo

By Citizen Reporter


Author: Jews wandered for 40 years – SA has another 10 to go

This was author and activist Muzi Kuzwayo’s message to guests on Thursday at the SA Jewish Board of Deputies annual Freedom Seder.

The Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years as they struggled to shrug off the shackles of their oppression after fleeing from Pharoah – South Africans have another 10 years to go in their long walk to freedom.

This was author and activist Muzi Kuzwayo’s message to guests on Thursday at the SA Jewish Board of Deputies annual Freedom Seder.

ALSO READ: Banned autobiography on apartheid republished 60 years later

The dinner, held ahead of the start of Passover on Monday, is an opportunity to reflect on the concept of freedom, said SAJBD national chair Prof Karen Milner.

At the function, there was an empty table representing the more than 100 hostages still held by Hamas, following the terror group’s attack on Israel on 7 October last year.

This year, Jews have been asked to keep one seat at their tables empty in solidarity with them when they celebrate Pesach.

“Janis Joplin sang Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose,” said Milner.

“Our freedom on Pesach is exactly the opposite; it is the freedom to risk all to uphold the values you hold dear at any cost.”

Kuzwayo, the co-founder of NGO South Africa’s Promise, reflected on his life growing up in Springs and how Jews and black South Africans’ lives had been inextricably intertwined.

As God parted the Red Sea to allow Moses to lead the Jews to freedom, He had done the same in 1994 for black South Africans, Kuzwayo said.

“When ANC president Albert Luthuli had said ‘Let my people go’, he had been echoing precisely the same words that Moses had uttered to Pharaoh.”

But South Africans were only on year 30 of their 40-year trek through the wilderness. Kuzwayo said SA’s constitution was not the end but a means to the end, it was a title deed to the land, not the house, which still had to be built.

“The constitution doesn’t protect you from storms, it lets you build shelter. But it only works if we work together. We’ve got another 10 years of wandering.”

ALSO READ: ‘SA continues to humiliate itself in the international arena’- Jewish Board of Deputies

Kuzwayo said calls to boycott SA Jewish businesses in the wake of the Gaza war were an abomination.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had not condemned it strongly enough. South Africans, he said, had to celebrate and cherish their diversity.

“Not only do black and Jewish lives matter, they are cheap in South Africa.” Milner said it was difficult to stand up against oppression.

“Moses grew up in Pharoah’s home, but he liberated himself and the children of Israel. He was scared, he ran away from the burning bush, but then he steeled himself and said ‘I am here, I will answer your call’.

“Moses, Aaron and Miriam all prevailed and now we celebrate our liberation from Egypt, but they needed to wander for 40 years to rid themselves of the mental shackles of slavery.”

Milner said she was shocked by the level of apathy – especially from those who took Nelson Mandela’s long walk to freedom for granted.

“Now is our moment to answer and say ‘I am here’, to stand up for our hard-fought rights. “Please vote…”

Read more on these topics

apartheid Israel