SA’s great ex­pec­ta­tions for the new year

CityPress - - Voices - Bu­sani Ng­caweni voices@city­

My son turned 22 this year. When I look at him, I see South Africa at 22. I see hopes and as­pi­ra­tions. I see suc­cesses and tri­umphs. I see life and vi­brancy. I see colour­ful­ness. I see dreams. I see a bright future, painfully di­vorced from the hurt­ful past.

But also, as I look at him, I wit­ness what has be­come of the 22-year-old South Africa. The par­al­lels are stark.

I see squan­dered op­por­tu­ni­ties. I see rest­less­ness. I see dreams de­ferred. I see ex­cesses and wastage. I see pain and suf­fer­ing. I see a strug­gle for iden­tity. I see grow­ing pains. I see trust deficits. I see poverty amid op­u­lence. I see lies and de­ceit. I see lethargy. I see rage, blood on the floor – from the ma­chete and the pis­tol.

The un­in­tended con­se­quences of the rag­ing sex­ual rev­o­lu­tion are as costly as the fore­told per­sis­tent drought.

That is the story of the past 22 years. The story of growth and sur­vival against the odds, of shoul­der­ing the heavy weight of his­tory, which will con­tinue to im­pose its legacy for many decades to come.

The trend points to deep­en­ing democ­racy and im­proved qual­ity of life. Yet the head­line screams “ser­vice de­liv­ery fail­ure, poor ed­u­ca­tion out­comes, cor­rup­tion, demo­cratic in­dif­fer­ence”.

But like the young man and his “fal­list com­rades”, Mzansi will break through. There is suf­fi­cient re­solve and so­cial cap­i­tal. There is knowl­edge of what suc­cess means, knowl­edge of the dis­ad­van­tage of fail­ure, un­der­stand­ing of the re­spon­si­bil­ity of mem­ber­ship of the com­mu­nity of na­tions.

Like the young man who is a prod­uct of an an­tag­o­nis­tic past, South Africa will even­tu­ally out­live colo­nial­ism and apartheid, how­ever long it takes.

At least the stu­dents have once again proven that in­jus­tice and in­equal­ity are in­tol­er­a­ble. And so the strug­gle to break the fron­tiers of colo­nial­ism con­tin­ues. The march to­wards re­claim­ing our on­to­log­i­cal destiny is gain­ing mo­men­tum.

The young man ap­pre­ci­ates the re­spon­si­bil­ity of be­ing a big brother. He is fully aware that, like his coun­try, the shadow of a fa­ther fig­ure or a Nel­son Man­dela is not sus­tain­able – he must build his own future, his own legacy.

My job is done, to a large de­gree. He must now get out of the cage and fly, or just be stunted as South Africa is in many as­pects of pub­lic life – like the stub­born spec­tre of in­equal­ity, con­spic­u­ous con­sump­tion and the bur­den of dis­ease.

Great ex­pec­ta­tions lie ahead for South Africa as she en­ters 23 years of demo­cratic rule in 2017. Many be­lieve that 2016 was a dif­fi­cult year – even my son, who wanted to drop out of “this bor­ing hon­ours pro­gramme”. Giv­ing up is no op­tion. So much has been sac­ri­ficed. Happy New Year to the new South Africa. You are not so new any more! The songs of in­no­cence do not be­long to you any more. You are at a moral cross­roads: binge­ing wololo, ex­celling dololo. At least ac­cord­ing to pub­lic opin­ion fu­elled by mass and so­cial me­dia. Zodwa Wa­bantu is our zeit­geist – hope­fully a pass­ing fes­tive fad. Babes Wo­dumo is our na­tional icon, break­ing records and bot­tles. Hope­fully, the tills ring too. With blessers and blessees flaunt­ing their loot on re­al­ity TV and so­cial me­dia, we are not only keep­ing up but now liv­ing with the Kar­dashi­ans. Na­tional iconog­ra­phy is ac­cen­tu­ated with ac­ces­sories of con­spic­u­ous con­sump­tion. This is our to­tal ex­pe­ri­ence, step­ping stones to the future. Rise up, South Africa, and build the future you want and de­serve to live in. The strug­gle for na­tional unity, non­sex­ism and, most im­por­tantly, eco­nomic free­dom in our life­time con­tin­ues. Ng­caweni is co-ed­i­tor of the book ti­tled Nel­son Man­dela: De­colo­nial Ethics of Lib­er­a­tion and Ser­vant Lead­er­ship, pub­lished by Africa World Press

Zodwa Wa­bantu and Kim Kar­dashian

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