We will continue with the country’s magic
The ANC meeting on Sunday is in many ways a gathering to affirm SA’s greatness
THE POSITION South Africa finds itself in 22 years into the birth of a new nation is truly remarkable if not unlikely, especially given 400 years of domination and oppression of one group by another.
Through hard work and perseverance, we have all made South Africa a magical place.
Our country has become a beacon of hope and opportunity to so many who had been locked outside looking in and we have become that beacon of hope for continental Africa.
A day after April 27, 1994, South Africa went straight to work, buoyed by an ANC government that had not rested a day in pursuit of freedom.
The ANC’s dedication doubled once freedom was attained. For everywhere we looked, there was a lot of work to be done.
What bound the ANC and the nation together was the abiding faith in the possibilities of a nation with a vision and a sense of shared destiny.
The ANC, formed of the people, believed that in a tolerant nation, your race, your gender, your ethnicity should never be a barrier to your success, or a reason for it. The ANC believed that in a generous nation, you did not have to be rich to go to the best schools.
The ANC knew that we owe a debt to all the African heroes who laid down their lives in order to punch a hole in a brutal system and to all those who have contributed to building a new nation.
This coming Sunday we will be celebrating this remarkable heritage.
The ANC meeting on that day is in many ways a gathering to affirm the greatness of our nation. Not because 40 percent of our youth who remain unemployed will suddenly find work the following day. Not because the millions of families trapped in poverty will suddenly be out of that poverty the following day, not because we will house and clothe and heal and feed all South Africans in need, but our greatness is enshrined in our Bill of Rights, that not only are we aware of our problems, but we have inscribed them in our Constitution so that we can relentlessly pursue them and give our people a life of dignity.
In the past 20 years, we have put close to 8 million South Africans to work, we can put 8 million more to work in half the time in the next phase. We say that boldly and confidently, if we stick to our commitments.
Affirming our greatness also means being grateful for small miracles. The millions of our children that are well fed, able to go to school; the freedom of speech; the freedom to start our own businesses; the ability to participate in the political process, choose which ever political party we so wish without fears of retribution; all these are small miracles we do not take for granted. Our country is therefore in a split-screen.
On one side of the screen it is the country as we wish it to be, and on the other it is our country as it is. The gap has been closing with each small act towards a more united and more prosperous South Africa – this is the progress we are proud of.
In 2017 however, at the 105th anniversary of the ANC, we are called to re-evaluate our journey. To measure ourselves against the standards we have set ourselves and see how we measure up. How do we measure up to the legacy of OR? How do we measure up to Madiba’s legacy? There is a palpable reality that we have slipped from these lofty legacies. As a result we have more work to do – to create jobs for our people, lift the standard of our hospitals and our schools, to ensure a child achieves good grades who has the drive and the dedication and is able to go to any university without worrying about money.
Our people know that the government will not solve all their problems. Parents have to teach their children how to learn; teachers must do their part with dedication; but the government must enable people and give them the needed assistance to succeed. Our government has done this, but much more work needs to be done.
We started this glorious burden of building a new nation by earning the respect of our people and the respect of the world. We dare never lose it.
It is not enough for just some of us to prosper. The struggle of others, unemployment, poverty, homelessness, illness, must matter to us, even if it is not our realities. These are all our people and we are their leaders. South Africa is a nation at work and we must never grow weary in pursuing the greatness of our country. There are of course those whose sole duty is to divide us. Those who abuse their influence, the spin masters, the analysts, the biased journalists, the editors seeking vain glory from chambers of career applause, our message is clear to them.
They will not succeed. We have already been through worse. There will be one country, living together in harmony, if it is the last thing we accomplish.
In the end, that is what the current ANC challenges are about. Do we participate in politics of cynicism or do we participate in the politics of a better ANC and a better country? Let us meet at Orlando Stadium on Sunday, January 8, to affirm the greatness of our nation.
It is not enough for just some of us to prosper.
Yonela Diko is the spokesperson of the ANC in the Western Cape.