It is hard to be a South African sometimes.
As a white South African, i sit with the heavy injustices of colonialism and apartheid in my rear view mirror all the time.
As a black, coloured or indian South African, they live in the consequences of colonialism and apartheid as well as a worldwide uplifting of whiteness to the detriment of everything else.
As a male, we sit with a horrific pandemic of violence towards women and children in particular, although violence to all genders is also out of control.
But one of the hardest things to get my mind around a lot of the time is the government. And the accompanying corruption.
You ANC nothing yet.
With all of the issues we face as a nation – as individuals and families and communities and race groups and genders and more – it would be a huge undertaking for any government to face all of that and be able to turn it around.
That assumes the government is trying. And the majority of South Africans will tell you just how trying our government is, but not in the same positive way. Because despite the history of the struggle and how we got to where we are now, it just feels like the record that plays on repeat is that of CORRUPTION.
The Record that Plays on Repeat is that of Corruption
We’re not surprised any more when we hear about it. We stopped being surprised a long, long time ago. And just as a new week brings with it the likelihood that in the Western Cape the DA under the guise of the City of Cape Town are readying to dehumanise a new community of struggling human beings just trying to survive through yet another illegal eviction, so we anticipate the next news of millions of relief funds that end up in some parliament minister’s back pocket.
A government without corruption that had at its heart the best for all of its people would likely still be facing a tremendous uphill, but you have to think that movement in education and transport and sanitation and employment would have somehow grabbed the imagination of the people and possibly had us all believing in the myth of that unreachable rainbow once more.
Black people cry “Racism!” with lives that don’t appear to matter [not in the same way] and white people cry “Farm murders!” while even cricketers have joined the harmony of voices belting out “All lives matter!” Money continues to be poured into an airline that is not allowed to fly and we play time-the-meal on another daily round of Loadshedding [the reality show the whole country gets to play].
Are we just a bunch of Maskholes?
i am an eternal optimist. i tend to believe that the goodies are going to win. But when it comes to something as easy as wearing a mask and social distancing [for those of us with the comfort and privilege to be able to do this easily – it’s obviously a very different story for those living in township spaces] we have shown how useless we are at that. So is there any hope that we can mobilise ourselves and turn things around without the government?
i have seen some amazing incredible stories of South Africans coming together in these times to feed and clothe and help and look after those who are facing tremendous need. i have been a part of a bunch of those stories. They give so much life. But i also occasionally slip and read the comments section. And realise just how messed up and inhuman some of us can be and seem to really embrace.
So i don’t know. i want to stay hopeful and in that regard i will continue to do what i can to be the difference i want to see. With my time and my money and my skills and my connections. And hope that others will continue to do what they’ve been doing. And dream that even more people will join the general good that has been happening all around. As i’ve said from the beginning of lockdown, i think we only get through this together.
So many opportunities for growth
White people – being trapped at home and even having time of disconnect that load-shedding can bring is an excellent opportunity for us to work at being better people when it comes to the other races that make up this country [92% of the rest of this country just by the way!] – there is so much online that you can educate yourself with, but if you need a push, why not start with these five short video clips which you can encourage your friends to watch as well and then talk about what you heard and saw. Or else this growing number of videos that will eventually be 50 Ideas for white people asking ‘But what can I do? when it comes to race.
Men – being stuck at home and even having time of disconnect that load-shedding can bring is an excellent opportunity for us to work at being better men to the women and children around us who are under attack. And if it’s not us, to start speaking to our friends about these things and challenging us all to live better, from hearing a woman’s “No!” to being aware of how our presence on the same side of the road can feel like a threat. There is also a helpful list of tips and ideas to consider over here. Use this present situation as an opportunity to do some work with your friends. With those in your whatsapp groups who share inappropriate ‘jokes’ and comments. With your sports teams.
Story-tellers – Come and visit our Character Stories for Children channel and take a look around. With over 60 stories already there and two brand new ones every week, consider putting your hand up, creating a character and sharing your own story with the kids who tune in regularly. If you’re a story writer, consider writing a short story for one of our characters to read. If you’re a musician then how about a kid’s song? If you’re a parent of young children i hope you have been taking this opportunity of new and exciting stories every week.
Christians – there is a great opportunity her to truly interrogate your faith. Spend some time asking what the Bible has to say about issues of Justice that are prevalent in the world today. Have some conversation about what Jesus’ response might be to the call of ‘Black Lives Matters’. Listen to or read a preach on it. A lot of people are busy talking about this online and so there are lots of resources present. But in a time where churches are mostly not meeting in their buildings, take some time to think about how your church does things, who makes the decisions, who is represented, who is missing… and more.
In the absence of a working government
This is where i keep returning to – we can wait for government and we can moan about it or throw stones, but that’s not going to change anything. Best we can do is just get on with it and change ourselves and then work on the world around us. For this i have continued hope because i have seen it happen and happening and the hope is that more and more people join the movement and we finally realise that the ants outnumber the crickets.
i mean, i’m hoping we do. That really is where my hope lies these days. That those who want to be part of creating a better world are more than those doing their utmost best to burn it to the ground. Including government. Which is so very very sad.
But as for me and my house – we will continue to wear masks and stay at home as much as possible. We will continue to commit our money and time and skills towards projects and people and organisations that seek to make a difference, especially when it comes to systems and structures that need to be challenged and dismantled and redesigned and more…