A lot of South Africans today make it their own personal pastime to complain about the government. Perhaps they are corrupt and resting on their laurels, perhaps they are inefficient and misguided but more than anything else I think South Africa's problem is not its governance but its ourselves. The ideals fought for in the struggle against Apartheid have changed, the dreams and hopes of our Apartheid struggle heroes for a truly African nation have muddied into this beehive of bitterness and complacency. Rather than all of us sitting around the fire reciting inspirational stories of our heritage to those of different creeds, we are still separated by invisible walls of culture and belief. We like to blame apartheid, or the ANC, or the Boers, or the conniving Englishman, or communism but our problem is rooted in what we are made from. The new South Africa has become both defined and confined by its diversity and we live today, as before, a nation divided into groups of individuals. South Africa has so many different types of arrow in its quiver that, to my mind, it seems inconceivable that even the most skilled of bowman could shoot each of these to hit their mark. Is this the failing of government or is South Africa simply too diverse to have a single national identity to drive us forward to success? I am losing faith and I question what I am and what we are collectively, those who are born here. What is it to be South African, is there a hope?
I look at the United Kingdom and ask myself this same question. You have the proud, inventive Scots who hate the English, a nation of tea and scones and cricketers, you have the Welsh, a depressed bunch who like to sing (really well), the Northern Irish (I don't know the stereotype here but they British nonetheless). Thrown into this then you have the Manx from the Isle of Man, the Channel Islanders of Guernsey and Jersey and it really does start becoming a rather confusing mess. At the end of the day though they all speak the same language, fly the Union Jack, sing the same national anthem and bestow upon themselves this mighty title "British". Sure, a country that has a checkered, bloody history of its own, for some the scourge of the world through its imperialistic avarice but at the end of the day a country with an identity that acknowledges all of its history from the Romans and the Celts to the modern day. An inclusive nation where everyone can have a voice. A man (or woman) from Aberdeen in the North could have a conversation with a man from Taunton in the south about anything from the weather to Miley Cyrus and they would be guaranteed to understand each other. As divided a nation as it can be at times whether it be in terms of politics or the colour of you skin or your religious beliefs, if you bring a group of people together they do have the potential to communicate with each and work together. Language is the ultimate unifier and this is South Africa's shortcoming.
If you bring together 4 people, one from Glenwood in Durban, one from Orania, one from Butterworth in the Eastern Cape and one from Rural Ulundi, you could potentially have 4 people here none of whom speak the language of any of the other. How is a country such as this ever going to unite to work towards a common goal if they can't speak the same language? Belief in the human spirit should certainly never, ever be discounted but how can a nation focus on and achieve its goals if the very means by which we have evolved to relate to each other are too far separated and diluted to ever achieve any level of meaning? We all know the South African education system is never going to teach 45 million people English. We are always going to be stuck in a situation where 3 participants in a meeting break into Zulu over an issue which they feel they can best express in their mother tongue much to the frustration of the rest of the room.
South Africa will never truly become the all inclusive African nation it aspires to be unless we remove these barriers. These barriers are unfortunately a legacy of our past and it is each of our own cultural legacy and ancestral roots that hold us back from moving forward. A lot of South Africans are still stuck in either a colonial or a struggle mentality. I, personally, am happy in my colonial bubble I don't want to change and become a member of this new South Africa. I don't want to learn Zulu or Afrikaans, I don't want to watch Zola-7. Ultimately, as an English-speaking South African, I don't feel I have a voice anymore, or an opinion, or a vote that counts. I don't want to be a part of this new South Africa and it's not that I don't love the country or its people, or its beauty, or its sport or its warmth. It's that I feel that colonial Africa has had its day and that I, as a relic of this system, have run the course of my stay. It's really time for Africa to become African and the new world power and it's not going to achieve that with a portion of the population who, for whatever reason, don't buy into this dream. I really want to go back to England now, having said all this. I want to rediscover my roots and go back to where I feel I belong, having been there a number of times of the years. Unfortunately with the complication of visas, work permits and the South African passport this isn't a reality.
I now feel a bit like an orphan of history having lost my English motherland because my ancestry doesn't quite meet the black and white UK immigration rules that are arbitrary but necessary! I'm glad that Africans can now truly determine the fate of their own nation and people and which, with time, will slowly be realised, be patient. However as the government seeks to return the rights of the land back to the indigenous peoples should it not also be engaging with those former colonial powers to repatriate those former citizens who now find themselves stranded. As part of its efforts to re-distribute wealth in the country and in the efforts of transformation the ANC needs to urge the former colonial powers of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to take their lost settlers back.
If the ANC is truly committed to this process would this not be a sensible way to go about it. If some tribe somewhere in Zululand wants to be restored to the land of their ancestors why should that be process be limited to South Africans of a particular ethnic origin. South Africa, good luck in your journey, I hope you get where you want to be, but please, I want to go back to England!
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.