Chronicles of Cliff: We need all hands on deck in SA

2013-07-21 10:00

We celebrated Mandela Day on Thursday, and everyone had their chance to give back for 67?minutes.

A campaign called Nationwide Hands Across South Africa was started in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. No matter where you were, we all could join hands and make a positive gesture of togetherness and solidarity, and express our shared hopes and dreams for the future.

It may not seem like much, but many peaceful protests and symbolic gatherings of unity have shown that the conscious action of many in concert can bringdown regimes, further a just cause and marshal a collective will in powerful sense. At the very least, they can be the beginning of something that can, in the modern lingo, “go viral”.

South Africa is emotionally ripe for a positive, coordinated opportunity to move forward.

Madiba’s instruction was that it was now in our hands, and I took that very literally. We shake hands when we greet, we use our hands to wave, to embrace, to pull someone up when they’re down. Like our voices and our expression, our hands are what we use in communication, and in connecting with other people.

Winston Churchill’s “V” sign for “victory”, the peace sign, the Black Power salute, the hands clasped in prayer – our hands seem to be an integral part of how we express ourselves. When you hold someone’s hand, you’re in it together.

Some people on Facebook and Twitter were not of like mind. Here’s what someone called Milan said: “I’m just curious, after holding hands, what do we do next? And what have we achieved? This has to be one of the more useless things we’re doing as a nation.”

Milan was probably masturbating for 67 minutes on Thursday, and considers that his contribution.

Francois, sensitive chap, said: “The day they switch off the machines?.?.?.” He is the kind of guy you love getting stuck opposite at one of those nightmaredinner parties full of negative people.

Pretty thinks she should have all the attention: “Haai we tired of Mandela geeeeez nowadays it’s all about him?.?.?.”

I have no doubt that all of these people spend more than 67 minutes a day complaining about South Africa. If you asked them, they would also fail to see they’re part of the problem.

This is what we still have to deal with.

South Africans are emotionally extreme. We either feel like we are part of the greatest nation on Earth, or that we are totally worthless. It’s a case of national, chronic schizophrenia.

Our self-esteem is so bad that we have to base our euphoria on one-off events like elections, sports finals and funerals; and we find every excuse tocriticise. Not all of us, mind you – and not even a majority.

If you can’t join hands with your neighbour for 67 seconds, if you can’t do something for someone else for 67 minutes and use the best excuse in the world – a man like Madiba – as a reason to shelve your cynicism, then perhaps you’re irrelevant.

Let’s make every day a Mandela Day.

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