Friends and friction: our children must learn the power of their hands

2017-09-27 06:00

THE greatness of a nation does not lie in its celebrated statesmen or its glorious rivers.

It is not found in its vast valleys or high above its majestic mountains.

Instead, it is in the actions of its common people – the majority of the men and women who raise its children.

It is in the hands of those who build its houses brick by brick, and all those who produce what is bought, sold and consumed.

Products cannot produce themselves.

It goes without saying that a nation’s focus should be on honouring its common people.

There is no greater honour for parents than to treat their children well, and there is no better way to raise children than to teach them to be better than their parents.

“This is my daughter, she is a lawyer,” is the best sentence a domestic worker could utter.

The road to that sweet peak is spiked with hard work, heartbreak and broken dreams – literally, when parents wake their children up while they’re still snoring under the warmth of the blanket.

Our children are growing up at a time when everything seems instant and free.

In the morning when they wake up, they are hit by the flimsy glitz of Instagram and, when comparing their lives with those they see there, are instantly tossed into the cage of non-achievers.

This makes them resent the people who threw them into that cage, and it is not the people in the selfie, but their own parents who they unintentionally accuse of being underachieving creaky bones.

Social media is proving to be violence of a special kind.

It hurts the mind.

It creates desire and helplessness at the same time.

It cannot be conquered, much as we cannot tame the fierceness of a tropical storm.

Social media is the evil genius of our time.

At first glance, it is sad that our children cannot go to the vault of history to find a sense of pride.

Unlike the Italians, they cannot walk through a museum to see the evidence of the great Roman Empire.

They cannot walk through grandiose mosques or imposing cathedrals that their forefathers built.

Every monument in this country has bloodstains, and every statue is a symbol of defeat for someone.

Every triumph has its detractors, and every loss is a reason for someone to celebrate.

Our foundation is divisive.

Some feel that reconciliation was apartheid’s ultimate injustice.

It allowed the perpetrators to get away with murder and is the cause of today’s culture of impunity.

Others feel it was a necessary reset because the alternative would have been worse.

The two sides, like the poles on either side of the Earth, will not meet, and trying to make them reconcile their differences will yield no profit.

We have to learn to live with that polarity, like many other things that are beyond the grasp and command of mere mortals.

Sixty years ago, the solution was thought to be in the workplace and the working class. However, work as we know it is coming to an end.

The days of people standing at an impersonal assembly line creating industrial-sized comradeship are over.

Unions are weakening because the workplace has evolved.

Today, the solution lies in reawakening craftsmanship, which was killed by mass production.

We must teach our children to labour with their hands again, and breathe soul into their work – something a robot cannot do.

Let them use the genius side of social media to sell their wares to the world.

It is their craftsmanship that will cement this divided nation and raise it to new heights.

• Muzi Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency.

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