Guest Column

Minister Dlodlo an inspiration for all

2017-07-16 06:35
Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo receives her award from Reverend Jesse Jackson. Picture: Qinisile Delwa

Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo receives her award from Reverend Jesse Jackson. Picture: Qinisile Delwa

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Kay Sexwale

The propensity to dream small, expect less from our leaders and whine, whine and whine some more about our challenges in South Africa is documented daily in the mass media and experienced in our everyday conversations. South Africa is, after all, one of the poster children for inequality and poverty and abuse against women and children. We are distracted by the urgent crises of murder and rape, which lull us to sleep and ignorance of that same inequality and poverty. We continue, year after year, to deal with the scourge of xenophobic violence directed, primarily and nonsensically, at foreign nationals of the melanin-infused kind. Even in the month dedicated to the icon of our liberation, late president Nelson Mandela, the fortunate among us often continue to show little care for those who are less fortunate.

My heart warmed when I heard that my sister and comrade, Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, was invited to the 46th Annual Rainbow Push Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund International Convention. At the event, hosted by civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson, Dlodlo was awarded with the International Leadership and Humanitarian Award recognising her outstanding public service in fighting poverty in South Africa.

I grabbed the opportunity to bask in the glow of positive news. Apartheid carried with it the idea that poverty was reserved for black people and that by definition we were never to be taken out of it, just made to cope with it. Our very beings were supposed to ooze a “Yes Baas, Ja Madam” mentality in the face of white supremacy.

But of course, our struggle for a better life for all in South Africa continues. While many of us are highly disappointed with many aspects of the Zuma-led government of today, we cannot forget that indeed the ANC’s commitment to the people of this country has been evident from 1912 until the present. Since the beginning of our democracy the poor have been getting a hand-up in the form of the grant system. Millions have received a roof over their heads, running water and electricity. We’ve proclaimed a loud “No!” to poverty and make the most with what we have, when corruption is not rearing its ugly head.

It is sad to see that the commitment of our shining stars such as Minister Dlodlo is being recognised more and more internationally than it is locally. The good news of delivery and excellence by many of our government institutions greatly outweighs the bad, including the stench of Zupta manipulation of our state resources. Our country is continually being confronted with the bad because of the few rotten apples among us.

Today I choose not to think too deeply about just how much this award forces us to recommit to the wellbeing of our people as the ANC broadly. I choose to celebrate the power of an amazing black woman. I choose to see South Africa as a place that can easily produce many more leaders like her. I choose to hold in my heart the truth that we are still a country alive with possibilities, united in diversity and able to attain anything we put our minds to. I choose today to hold my head up because one of our own is being recognised for embodying the very best of what we all should have – a commitment to the people of this country.

My hope today is not just inspired by one person receiving an award, but by other South Africans too who are also doing their bit to better this country: the young businesspeople who create jobs, the leaders of various sectors who give hope, the ordinary people whistling Sontonga’s Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and Mambazo’s Homeless at the same time. We should never forget the commitment of those getting ready this morning to run a soup kitchen, those trekking to Kilimanjaro’s peak to keep girls in school, those putting their bodies on the front line for our safety. You are all truly remarkable and I see the best versions of ourselves in you.

We must all be challenged to decrease inequality and poverty, each in our own way. May this award and others in honour of those who are committed to our fellow citizens spur us on to work towards this goal with even greater zeal. This is also the time to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in earnest. Our people cannot live on hand-outs – which sadly create entitlement – indefinitely.

May our love for each other grow as South Africans at a time when a concerted effort has been made by scoundrels who have captured the government to racially divide us. The sad thing is that we fell for it and saw more bad than good in each other.

Minister Dlodlo has rekindled my resolve to be humane, to be African, ho ba le botho. Ka nnete mosadi o tshwara thipa ka bohaleng!

Sexwale is a communications strategist and political adviser

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