by Tsepo Kgatlhane
written in May 2013
The world of past centuries has not been kind to people who are different from them. From reasons of religious background to political affiliation, it seems like it may be instinctive for humans to not get along. People from east to west, men and women of all races, ethnicity, culture and sexual preferences, historically have been at loggerheads. Intolerance seems to me, is inherent in all of us.
My town has experienced the worst possible consequences of such intolerance, here confusion and separation can breed hatred and anger so hurtful that it can lead to the tragic circumstances, like a death of one of our brothers. This senseless act was a result of a lack of understanding- a preventable crime against humanity, that just required the simple sense of compassion and tolerance.
Do I really believe that intolerance is something naturally woven into us?
Honestly, no. I’ve seen many people turn from that position of confusion and a lack of understanding, to creating lifetime friendships and looking beyond petty differences like sexual preferences or the fact that I, or anyone else for that matter, am gay.
I think intolerance and confusion go hand in hand. I think people are only intolerant because they do not know. I, being a teacher, am a strong believer in the power of education. Intolerance can be removed from the minds of our people just as illiteracy can be replaced with knowledge.
I do not believe that people are habitually bad. I think the actions that led to the atrocities in my hometown are a result of a lack of education, a lack of understanding.
Once people see that we are all human, we bleed the same blood and we are no different to their own brothers and sisters, then that understanding will grow. Just as racism, religious intolerance and sexism in society has faded in the new South Africa, so will homophobia and transphobia.
My brothers and sisters, it is not all doom and gloom though. Let us not forget the progress we have already seen. As the world grows more liberal, the world becomes a better place for us all.
Let us not forget the actions of our past heroines, rights groups and campaigns. Who fought for the rights of the unheard. Their fight has not been in vain. Let us remember all those who have died as a result of intolerance or a lack of understanding. Their death has not been in vain.
As long as we come together, stand together and are heard collectively, then the world will become better. It is the law of nature. That understanding will grow and that intolerance will fade!
My brothers and sisters, I am a teacher and I can tell you now, the next generation of South Africans will be better. And the one thereafter will be even better. So keep spreading your understanding, your knowledge and let us move towards a world where we love and let tolerance be the second nature.
Tsepo Kgatlhane is a 26 year old South African high school teacher, community radio presenter, philanthropist and proud agent for change.He was born and raised in Wrenchville – Kuruman (a mining town) in the Northern Cape.
It is the town, people, culture, music and fashion trends that cultivated his passion to be the change he so badly wants to see in the world. He spent most of his years in the Northern Cape, where he also obtained his Bachelor of Education Degree at the National Institute for higher Education Kimberley, corresponding with UWC. The friendly, passionate teacher and source of entertainment has a very diverse background. He was raised by a single parent and has two brothers.
Tsepo has been through difficult times and knows what suffering is after he lost his friend Thapelo Makhutle in 2012 due to an alleged hate Crime.
As a life orientation educator he get to see everyday the potential children have and he constantly tries to show the learners that education is important, that they should always chase their dreams and be tolerant of people who are different from them. He is involved in various projects that particularly focus on empowering young people and that try to change the misconceptions about the LGTBI community in Kuruman.
He was recently been nominated in the annual Volksblad Anglo American, GWK Noord–Kaapenaar van die jaar competition , for all the positive work he is doing in his community.
Facebook Details: https://www.facebook.com/IAmTsepoKgatlhane?fref=photo
Previous video (article) featuring Tsepo published by Inkanyiso in 2012, where we met him for the first time in Kuruman.
Speaking at Thapelo’s memorial service in June 2012