Kenyan papers want racism conference to create global harmony

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- Newspapers in Kenya have called on the conference on racism which winds up in Durban, South Africa, Friday to come up with decisions that would create global harmony rather than widen the gap between nations and peoples.
In separate editorials Thursday, The People and the East African Standard, both based in Nairobi, say the event should never have been a forum for apportioning blames but an opportunity to build bridges and dismantle barriers that separate the different races of the world.
Commenting on what it calls the "cowardly walkout" by Israel and the US from the conference Monday, the Standard notes that the Durban conferences should not have been reduced to the sole issue of Zionism and the Middle East conflict.
"The Durban Conference is not only about Israel and Zionism.
It has other important matters to be discussed.
Above all, the US itself cannot claim to be free of the racial ills being discussed at the conference," the paper says.
It further notes that the conference did not attract good press in the Western world, pointing out that some newspapers in Britain had urged their government to join the pullout from the forum, which they described as "hateful" and "wretched".
The People newspaper notes that it was sad that right from the onset, the governments of the US and Israel announced they would not send high-level delegations to the forum over what they called the "hateful" language used in pre-conference documents.
This attitude, the paper argues, amounts to a betrayal of the course, aspirations and objectives of the conference since they had played down on the theme, context and immediacy of the event.
It notes that racism remains a prime issue for Africa, for the simple reason that the continent has the greatest number of blacks who were enslaved and unfortunately continue to suffer contemporary racism.
The paper commends the more positive attitude to the issue by Germany "which threw away her pride and apologised to African states that were victims of slavery and colonial exploitation".
"This was a gesture of monumental import coming from the country responsible for the Jewish holocaust and Nazism," it adds.
The People says Bonn's attitude should have been emulated by all other European powers that participated in and benefited from slavery and colonialism.
"The Durban conference should be an opportunity to build bridges and bring down the barriers that separate the different races of the world.
It should not be the forum for apportioning blame and refining racist language," it notes.
The Standard adds: "Whatever the criticism, the Durban conference is a milestone.
It must achieve its goals in spite of these setbacks.

06 september 2001 20:49:00

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