Defend Truth


In the unbearable darkness of a world in turmoil, we shouldn’t miss pockets of light


Zukiswa Pikoli is a journalist and columnist at Daily Maverick and is part of the founding team of Maverick Citizen. Prior to Daily Maverick she worked as a communications and advocacy officer at Public Interest Law Centre SECTION27.

Is there room for joy when all around you is despair? It is a tough question, especially as the world weeps for the thousands of lives being lost as a result of the escalating Israel-Hamas conflict.

Most of us seem paralysed by the enormity of the horror and by a sense of helplessness in helping to end the carnage. But we would be remiss if we did not use this moment, not only to bear witness, but to reflect on the coexistence of despair and joy.

I have come to believe that it is possible and often necessary to exist in two realities at once to be able to continue to put one foot in front of the other.

When my family was in exile, the trauma, grief and loss my parents navigated were unimaginable. Yet, through those moments, they were committed to creating enclaves of normalcy for us to live a somewhat normal life, punctuated by pockets of joy that were held together by a community dedicating their lives to a better South Africa.

This was necessary not only for us, but also for their sanity and morale so that they wouldn’t shrivel up and die from a sense of hopelessness that seemed ever threatening. It was also necessary to inculcate a sense of hope for a functional life beyond the one of their immediate suffering.

In South Africa, we have been overcome by the joy of the Springboks’ victory. But many, rightly so, have grappled with the question of whether or not it is fair to do so while millions in our country languish in poverty and thousands are dying in the Israel-­Hamas conflict.

Whereas some say glibly that sports and politics do not mix, I disagree. And captain Siya Kolisi captured it well when he said: “This was not about us as players – this victory was for every South African, and we showed what is possible with this diverse team. This trophy was for the people experiencing tough circumstances – those in Zwide, Goodwood and Malmesbury, and all other communities and townships …”

The Springboks have gone from having no black players to fielding one in their first Rugby World Cup in 1995, which they won, to their first black captain setting a record of winning two world cups.

This would have never happened had black people during the apartheid era given in to their exclusion from the sport and drowned in the despair of the times, with no hope of ever knowing what it would be like to feel the joy of playing a sport they love and one day representing their country at such a level.

Perhaps, if nothing else, the lesson for us this week in South Africa is that we should focus on the things that unify us, with a view to work continuously on building on them and recognising each other’s personhood so that relations do not degenerate into attempts at annihilating each other. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

DM168 front page


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  • Kanu Sukha says:

    While I have no issues with the substance of your article, there is a ‘small’ aspect I wish to bring to your attention. You have (like many others) characterised the issue as a conflict between Israel and Hamas. I don’t think that is correct and would suggest that as it is one between Israel and Palestine. Hamas only came into existence long after the ‘formation’ of the state of Israel. In fact there are several reports that for certain periods, the Israeli regime ‘supported/endorsed’ Hamas, when it suited them in their efforts to invent/create an “enemy”. Much like our apartheid state did. The divide and rule strategy. The current Hamas is very much a structure of their own creation, which has proverbially decided to bite the hand that fed it. The narrative which the US which sponsors Israel (both ardent supporters of our previous apartheid regime & who also called the ANC terrorists) are trying to flood the world with, needs to be exposed for the hypocracy it is. ‘Hamas’ is purely a scapegoat for attacking Palestinians indescriminately, who have been enslaved in their own land. Hence the unending slaughter of children and women (which a faction of Hamas also did) continues with the obliteration of schools, hospitals, places of worship, food and water sources, certain journalists & above all residences of ‘suspected’ Hamas members. This slaughter with the explicit support & endorsement of the US under the so-called mantra of Israel’s ‘right to DEFEND’ itself .

    • Ben Harper says:


      • Enver Klein says:

        Ben Harper, you asked if I was kidding about the IDF “killing the hostages”.
        Well, I hope you saw the video clips that Hamas sent out where the hostages are asking Netanyahu: “… why are they not being swopped out for Palestinian prisoners …” and “… why are you killing us …”?
        One clip was released after the hostages were shown the press release where it was included, in the statement, that Israel will prevent fuel reaching the generators that provide air to the tunnels.
        I ask you who will this kill, only members of Hamas?

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