Friends & Friction: If the shoe fits, wear it

2013-10-22 10:00

Occupy Wall Street, Arab Spring, Nando’s Generation and other nameless protests happening across Spain, Greece and Italy are symptoms that we live in a turbulent world.

I hate to say this, but brown sugar will always be seen as inferior to white sugar. The darker the sugar, the greater the stigma, and by the same token, black protests and strikes will always be judged harshest.

I have stopped complaining about that, choosing instead to help our youth gain a gigantic self-confidence. The strike season, which apparently lost South Africa a major manufacturing contract, is, according to pundits, giving us a bad name, making us an unreliable partner in the eyes of the world.

You would think that by now, all these analysts have realised that an undemocratic country is the most unreliable partner, and that for as long as China remains a one-party state, it is at risk of being hit by a Chinese Spring.

As people become wealthier and when putting bread on the table is no longer a priority, they start to fight for their rights.

Have you ever wondered why people in poor rural areas like Tsolo do not hold violent protests, yet people who’ve received RDP houses complain about lack of service delivery?

The women who read this column will understand this. When you look at the many pairs of shoes that you own, you never think about the man who has no legs.

You don’t even think about the man you live with, whose hard-working shoes have to suffer in silence while your loud, new shoes wait comfortably for the right evening, the right dress, the right handbag.

The man may protest from time to time, but new shoes won’t stop coming and when they suspect that they are no longer welcome in the closet, they simply walk into the next room and live there.

There will come a time when those beautiful legs can no longer stand in those killer heels. That’s when they get taken off frequently at work.

Then the heels get shorter and the dresses longer. That does not mean that the beauty of the owner is gone, but that experience has quietly set in and changed one’s perspective.

The mental colander has separated the important from the frivolous, which is why they say life begins at 40.

South Africa is still a long way from 40, and so we’re still concerned about cosmetic issues. We want to look bigger and better than we are.

Elected politicians are concerned with the petty, like the right to flout the law, driving at high speed and not stopping at traffic lights.

Business leaders are more concerned with perks than building businesses and grooming people. Union leaders care about their own careers rather than the welfare of the workers.

This situation won’t last long. A unionist told me young shop stewards were prepared to ask questions that were considered sacrilege.

They now ask the union office bearers if they will also forgo their salaries if the workers go on strike, so they could also feel the pain.

I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled because hope is sitting among us. Look at the quiet confidence of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the determination of Angie Motshekga, who is fixing the mess made by the men before her.

So let the immature blue-light brigade enjoy itself, and let business and union leaders blame everyone but themselves, but don’t castigate the people for complaining that the shoe is too tight.

» Kuzwayo is a mwalimu at Ignitive, an advertising agency

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