What South Africa needs right now
We are on the brink of disaster. And each step that we take closer and closer to the cliff edge, feels like surely this is the last. South Africans have had a serving of political fire like no other in the last two weeks. Truly it is in the last few years, but now it stares us in the face where things feel like they’ll never be the same again. In the month of march alone, the constitutional court has been robbed, we have lost one of the few remaining heroes of the apartheid struggle, a stalwart that was somewhat of a philosophical compass to the nation, and we have seen our leader strike down a death blow to our cabinet and economy in an act that makes it known to his people that he has complete disregard for consequence. The start of the new week has been the start of a very different political landscape and therefore our lives. While the news of last weeks’ cabinet reshuffle settles, we all look to someone to tell us that it will be okay, that they, the powers that be, have things under control.
Sadly they don’t have things under control, and we have been flung into a state of frenzy. Everything since Thursday has been a reactionary fluster and denouncement of Jacob Zuma’s bizarre behaviour. How strange that we have arrived here. The moment Jacob Zuma decided it was okay to brazenly remove everyone that wasn’t his lapdog, we had a problem. And he did it against the best interests of the people. I am spelling it out like this because if you weren’t concerned with politics before, then now is the time. Pravin Gordhan, Mcebisi Jonas and Derek Hanekom were our security blankets that made us feel that the ship might still stay afloat and that there were people that would act to protect us. Now that they have been so timeously disempowered, the pickings for new saviours are slim.
We are falling into a well of uncertainty and clutching desperately for lifelines on the way down. It is remarkable though, how the human spirit can endure until the last possible moment. I don’t blame us, it takes time to acknowledge and accept that we’re screwed. And longer still to organise the self into action to respond. And we’re still on the back foot because we just cannot believe that he has done this. The once hopeful rainbow nation has been taken for granted and we’re all hurting because Jacob Zuma and his cronies have defiled the country and put a cap on our future, however imperfect we might have been.
How fitting that Ahmed Kathrada’s funeral be the platform for South Africa to draw the line in the sand.
I am however not really writing to discuss politics, that is not my preferred field, but what I am hoping we can consider more closely is our own personal role as individuals that make up the society in question. One, we must have an opinion on this crisis. To all the white people that feel voiceless in a country that you are starting to feel marginalised in, stop putting your head in the sand, and shying away from comment, soon there will be no sand to hide in. You’re dammed if you do, you’re damned if you don’t so rather make a stand as uncomfortable as it may be to voice. Go on and be judged for Black Monday, a late response is better than none. To all the black people feeling betrayed by their liberators and angry at how things have turned out, engage in the discussion. You are allowed to have a different voice that challenges the status quo but aligns with the kind of black government you want. Don’t ignore the very flaws of the few that bring you down. The tragedy of our society is that it stands divided, it is only among the very brave that fearless, honest conversations are had surrounding our futures. I went to work yesterday and barely anyone was talking about the elephant in the rom. Our country is burning and we can’t get it together enough to deal with each other honestly.
Our perceptions of each other are embodied in stereotypes that are such poor representations of the truth of the majority. All black people are perceived either in the image of money grabbing greedy politicians, or savage revolutionaries continually teetering on the brink of violence. All white people are represented either by the infamous white monopoly capital, or perfect suburban families that exist in complete ignorance of the plight of the other 90%. Everyone else in between that makes up the new South Africa who is well informed and wants to live and let live, is ignored and pushed to the side lines of the national debate. They don’t make for good stereotypes that stir the sensation that perpetuates the national divide. And we allow ourselves to be manipulated, to focus on apportioning blame. The longer the discussion remains unhad, the longer these sentiments will persist. And the longer the nation stands divided and dysfunctional.
The truth is that we both are in fear of what might happen, and are largely concerned with the security of the nation as a whole but cannot and will not look outside of ourselves. At least on a political level the “united we stand” theme is somewhat of an attempt to reject divisions, but this needs to be had on a personal level. In the best interests of the group, we have to put aside personal hang ups and consider the larger picture. And perhaps now is the time to consider the fact that these divisions have been manufactured. The more we perceive each other as opposites, the easier prey we are to be manipulated for the interests of others, at the expense of our security and future.