Aban­don old ideas, reach for the fu­ture

CityPress - - Business & Tenders - Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­press.co.za Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive, an ad­ver­tis­ing agency

Imagine if a 23-year-old who has a deep, scarred voice be­cause he’s been smok­ing and drink­ing the good life away came to you and said: “You know, the best years of my life were when I was five years old.”

When the best years of your life were spent in the pram and at crèche, where it was some­one else’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to wipe your nose, your life­time will be a com­bi­na­tion of dis­as­ter and sor­row.

Many South Africans spend a lot of time think­ing about the past – they are wor­ried about pre­serv­ing Nel­son Man­dela’s le­gacy rather than deal­ing with to­day’s chal­lenges.

Didn’t you used to sing “Ha ho na ea tshwanang le yena [There is no one like him]”? You need to un­der­stand this: great as he was, there will never be another Man­dela.

That fierce fighter, who was pre­pared to pay with his life for jus­tice and the love of his peo­ple, is gone.

The greats are not born into great­ness. In­stead, like the rocks on the edge of the sea, they are shaped by re­main­ing stead­fast in the face of treach­er­ous cir­cum­stances.

And a good 23-year-old should live in the bub­ble of ide­al­ism, shielded from the cyn­i­cism that comes from the cuts of bro­ken dreams and shat­tered hopes.

The prob­lem with South Africans is that we take gloom as an in­alien­able right and hap­pi­ness as the re­spon­si­bil­ity of oth­ers, which makes us pow­er­less par­tic­i­pants who can only breathe in­vol­un­tar­ily, and who are to­tally de­pen­dent on how the die is cast by strangers in a place we nei­ther know nor un­der­stand.

A 23-year-old has no right to be jaded, be­cause life – that phe­nom­e­non that starts with birth, is marked by con­stant and of­ten un­pre­dictable changes, and even­tu­ally ends with death – would not be life if it did not have its ups and downs. He or she is the hope of the world. Sadly, African coun­tries are known to be the great dis­ap­point­ments of the world, from Ghana – the first coun­try on the con­ti­nent to gain in­de­pen­dence – through to the Congo and Zim­babwe, and, fi­nally, God for­bid, South Africa.

No mat­ter how ide­al­is­tic the 23-year-old may be, if he or she is trapped in an old, tired body with no vi­sion for the fu­ture, there can be no hope.

The prob­lem with Africans is that we have a ten­dency to elect peo­ple who are close to the grave to run our af­fairs.

Such peo­ple may have a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence, but times change and they can’t keep up.

Busi­nesses ex­pect peo­ple to re­tire at the age of 60 or 65, so why should politi­cians be treated dif­fer­ently? When peo­ple know that the only ma­jor event left in their lives is the grave, they stop car­ing.

Their level of in­tran­si­gence in­creases, and they be­come im­mune to any dis­con­tents and protests, and much less open to the new world that is un­sym­pa­thetic to their old ways.

A case in point is the US with its new pres­i­dent, 70-year-old Don­ald Trump.

Politi­cians should also be forced into re­tire­ment at the age of 65, which would dis­qual­ify most of the peo­ple who we be­lieve are in the run­ning to be­come the next South African pres­i­dent.

If Lindiwe Sisulu is in­deed in the run­ning and had to re­tire at 65, she’d only have one year to serve as pres­i­dent.

After 23 years of democ­racy, we don’t need lead­ers who think that dog-like loy­alty is the only path to power – we need peo­ple with the en­ergy and will to aban­don old ideas so they can lift the na­tion to pros­per­ity.

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