Where to for South Africa?

We feed our value sys­tem with money and deca­dent lifestyles, no mat­ter how such money is ac­quired, even if by steal­ing

CityPress - - Voices - Mo­hau Bo­siu [email protected]­press.co.za

We go home. To breathe in the fra­grances of ten­der­ness, and breathe out our anx­i­eties. This is the last month of the year, the fi­nal run, and we have been bat­tered. If not by our in­debt­ed­ness, our keen­ness to mask our grief for this beloved coun­try with the de­signer la­bels on the clothes we wear, the brand names of the cars we drive and the lo­ca­tions of our rented homes, then by what com­pounds our calamity – the dev­as­tat­ing news of ra­pa­cious and brazen man­i­fes­ta­tions of cor­rup­tion within state in­sti­tu­tions.

With­out fail, daily, what is served on our din­ner ta­bles and as our break­fasts on-the-go is a sta­ple diet of il­licit cash out­flows from in­sti­tu­tions of gov­er­nance, un­fath­omable crimes such as the ver­i­ta­ble rap­ing of chil­dren, women mur­dered by their in­ti­mate part­ners or fam­ily mem­bers, racism, and an orgy of po­lit­i­cal slo­gans.

Thus has it come about that our op­ti­mism for a South Africa that would be a bea­con for hu­man­ity has worn off. We have grown cold and ever-more in­di­vid­u­al­ist. The un­yield­ing legacy of spa­tial apartheid is stark. De­spite the demo­cratic break­through of 1994, only a mi­nor­ity elite of black peo­ple en­joy the fruits of that break­through, while the ma­jor­ity still lan­guish un­der the apartheid eco­nomic trav­esty.

We leave our places of birth and de­scend into the city cen­tres in pur­suit of a bet­ter life: find a job, start a busi­ness, get a higher ed­u­ca­tion qual­i­fi­ca­tion. We scram­ble for a chance. And be­cause we have be­come in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic, we scram­ble for a chance in a value sys­tem steeped in ma­te­ri­al­ism. If I eat bet­ter and dress in more ex­pen­sive clothes, I am more hu­man than the next per­son – there­fore the most log­i­cal thing to do is to ap­pear bet­ter than the next per­son. Thus the teach­ing “Thou shalt love thy neigh­bour as thy­self” crum­bles. We feed our value sys­tem with money and deca­dent lifestyles, no mat­ter how such money is ac­quired; even if by steal­ing from the next per­son – our neigh­bour.

Home beck­ons. We will go. To nav­i­gate through streams of pot­holes on our roads and heaps of rub­bish dumped by the way­side, and, there in the dis­tance, we’ll hear the chat­ter and laugh­ter of kids round the cor­ner. For a fleet­ing pe­riod, we will be spared from Christ­mas carols, ar­ti­fi­cial snow and elves draped in warm gowns. It is sum­mer time in South Africa; we do not have snow.

The sun greets our ar­rival, kwaito mu­sic fills the air, we re­unite with old friends and fam­i­lies come to­gether. At this time of year we greet each other say­ing “Hepiii!”. Eu­pho­ria cov­ers our in­fir­mi­ties. “Ke Dezemba, boss!” – our mantra. We drink co­pi­ously and eat to our hearts’ con­tent.

“Come De­cem­ber, the year folds its wings like a great, tired bird, and they re­turn for Christ­mas.”

Home is call­ing. We go home. There is danc­ing in the streets. Vulindlela – make way – Brenda Fassie com­mands, be­cause a cou­ple is get­ting mar­ried. Yekela umona. Don’t be jeal­ous; join in the fes­tiv­i­ties. We dance. The laugh­ter of chil­dren rings through the house. We are home. It is here that we learnt that poverty doesn’t tri­umph over beauty.

On this side of our world, it is sum­mer time, the sun rises early in the morn­ing, and it is al­ready warmer. The birds sing, roused by the quiet air that fills our com­mon world. The fields have turned colour. The dust is gone. Show­ers from the heav­ens re­store the earth.

Time passes; sooner than we re­alise we will be in au­tumn. Our coun­try will be pre­par­ing for the sixth demo­cratic elec­tions, dur­ing a his­toric pe­riod: a quar­ter of a cen­tury for demo­cratic South Africa. As a peo­ple, we need to re­flect a lit­tle on where we are go­ing, and what con­tri­bu­tions are we mak­ing to this South Africa that is be­ing born.

Our found­ing pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela be­seeched the heav­ens dur­ing his in­au­gu­ra­tion in 1994 that “the sun shall never set on so glo­ri­ous a hu­man achieve­ment” – that which the great masses who are our mother and fa­ther had so long fought to at­tain.

As heirs of that achieve­ment, we have a tax­ing bur­den to as­sess and re­de­fine our or­gan­is­ing value sys­tem as a peo­ple.

At the mo­ment, our coun­try is seized with what is termed “state cap­ture”. What is talked about in this con­text is cor­rup­tion as it man­i­fests in state in­sti­tu­tions, but our prob­lems are much deeper than that. The heart of the prob­lem is the per­pet­ual as­sault to our or­gan­is­ing value sys­tem as a peo­ple.

De­bat­ing the no­tion of state cap­ture, in the re­cent ANC jour­nal Um­rab­ulo, ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Joel Net­shiten­zhe il­lus­trates how even the stu­dent and youth move­ments – the repos­i­to­ries of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of so­ci­etal lead­er­ship – have not been spared the ma­lign in­flu­ence of hold­ing of­fice or pos­sess­ing power one way or the other.

He writes as fol­lows: “The priv­i­leges that at­tach to stu­dent lead­er­ship and the re­sources that go with this have cor­rupted many young lead­ers. This ma­lign in­flu­ence of un­eth­i­cal con­duct, es­pe­cially among the youth, has ma­jor im­pli­ca­tions for the very eth­i­cal char­ac­ter of the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle …

“Be­yond di­rect in­ci­dents of cor­rup­tion among youth or­gan­i­sa­tions, there is the mat­ter of the value sys­tem and out­look, which are in­fused with ‘celebrity cul­ture’. Stand­ing in the eyes of peers, pos­si­bil­i­ties of en­ter­ing in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships, fol­low­er­ship on so­cial me­dia … all this and more seem in­creas­ingly to de­pend on and in turn to feed that celebrity sta­tus, with money and deca­dent lifestyles at the cen­tre of it. The great­est dan­ger is that young cadres are emerg­ing into po­si­tions of more se­ri­ous re­spon­si­bil­ity within the con­text of a value sys­tem and cul­ture that is cor­ro­sive of the hu­man­ism and self­less­ness that fun­da­men­tal so­cial trans­for­ma­tion de­mands.”

Come 2019, the 25th year of demo­cratic South Africa, the ques­tion must there­fore be posed: Quo vadis? Where to, South Africa? Bo­siu is a thought leader and com­mu­ni­ca­tion alum­nus of the Tsh­wane Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy

‘Come De­cem­ber the year folds its wings like a great, tired bird, and they re­turn for Christ­mas.’

NOVIOLET BULAWAYO

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