ON August 28 1963 250 000 Americans of every colour, creed and religion came together to protest against racial injustice and discrimination in the US, in Washington. Hundreds of people evacuated the city because they thought it would degenerate into violence.
The gathering was addressed by Martin Luther King, at which he made his immortal speech, "I have a dream”. There was not a single event of violence. How was this possible?
King told the crowd how they should behave: "I told the pilgrims that the pilgrimage would be long and the pilgrims had to maintain the moral high ground they had so effectively claimed through non-violence.
"And that is something I must say to my people who stand on the worn threshold which leads to the place of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.
"If politicians are too slow, well then there has to be yet more dignity and yet more discipline.”
In South Africa, where every protest is violent, the protestors have lost claim to any high moral ground.
- G H Watermeyer, Graaff-Reinet