Revolution is the only solution

2010-05-28 00:00

THE South African Oxford Dictionary defines revolution as the overthrow of a government or social order, or complete change.

If you follow revolutions in Africa and elsewhere, you will notice that they are not started by societies. Revolutions are started by individuals. Our own political revolution was not started by the oppressed­ masses. It was started by individuals who mobilised the masses and became spirited advocates for the cause. The same can be said about the Cuban revolution, the Mozambican revolution and many others.

Another significant aspect of a revolution is that it does not take place in a society that encourages conformity, which is increasingly becoming a problem in this country. We are fast becoming a society that doesn’t take kindly to people, thought patterns and systems that are different from what we are accustomed­ to.

That is tragic, because if as a country we have to deal effectively with all the challenges facing us, we need nothing short of a revolution. If we are to deal effectively and decisively with the scourge of HIV/Aids, we need a revolution, and this brand of revolution must have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the mind.

Nothing is cast in stone. We need to approach our societal system as a fluid space where everything can be changed, where every battle can be won. For that revolution to ensue, we need individuals who are not afraid to give birth to new ideas and new ways of seeing things. Much as we are comfortable with our societal culture and our “normal” way of doing things, we need to understand that culture is useless until it is challenged.

We have a progressive and democratic government that is committed to the development of the people. We need to build from that base and come up with new revolutionary ideas to take this country forward. We need to encourage our government to be open to new ideas, even if those ideas come from people no one has ever heard of.

If our education system, for instance, has to be changed. We need new ideas about how to change it. This applies to public health, rural development, the war on crime, etc. I don’t believe that if the country’s citizens decide today that we are tired of crime and resolve to end it, a year from now we will still be speaking of crime and South Africa in the same sentence. People can change things.

All of us who are working and earn more than R10 000 a month have been to one form of school or another. Most of the schools, out of the more than 6 000 that we have in the province, have more than 100 former pupils who earn over R10 000 a month. If 200 people who were pupils, say, at Mehlokazulu High School in Imbali, decided to pay R300 every month towards the school, by the end of one year Mehlokazulu High School would be one of the best schools in the country, in terms of infrastructure and the provision of quality education­.

Think about that happening in all of our schools. Think about the kind of education system we would have. That is exactly the kind of revolution I am talking about. We need to ask ourselves if our dependency on the government is what we really need.

This is what Professor Mohammad Yunis was talking about during the last Nelson Mandela lecture, where he said that in the same way that we have an apartheid museum in South Africa, we need to create a poverty museum where we can tell the coming generations that this is what poverty used to look like. That unfortunately will never happen without a revolution of the mind.

As Yunis aptly puts it: “The current financial crisis makes it very clear that the system that we have is not really working and that it is the right time for us to undo things and build them in a new way.” That, my friend, is a revolution.

The fact that despite our noble intentions we still have many people living in poverty, means we have not yet become fed up with the status quo. Once we get fed up, the same way we were fed up with apartheid, revolution will ensue and people’s lives will be changed.

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