Dashiki Dialogues: What’s the state of your ’hood?

2012-02-10 12:58

Getting to grips with the state of our nation may mean more than observing the yearly speech by our head of state, or the state of his head. We may have to look closer to home if we hope to get ahead.

We tend to lose sight of our real challenges and become obsessed with an abstract version of our condition.

Because we always discuss our national problems using big numbers, complex statistics and a murky legal language, we forget that it’s actually people’s lives we are talking about – our own brothers, aunts and neighbours.

So this year, I suggest we demand the “state of the ’hood” report from our ward councillors.

Like African-American Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said, to build strong communities you need strong families, and therein lies the route to a strong nation. It’s simple mathematics. The neighbourhood is a microcosm of the nation.

To understand South Africa’s future, I looked at the township I grew up in, searching for symptoms of the problems cited by President Jacob Zuma this week. He echoed a report by Mistra (Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection), which says that two-thirds of unemployed young people have not passed matric or worked a single day in their lives.

This is sobering. Of the 30 houses I’m connected to, I found less than 10 matriculants – and even fewer university graduates. This paints a dark picture for skills and future income potential. Now add a few young boys with a nyaope (a concoction of narcotics) addiction and we have an even grimmer story to tell.

The sad thing about our drug problem is that people generally know who sells these substances on their
streets. Their only

failure is mastering enough community members to root out these criminals.

This failure to act is also responsible for the rising reports of racism across the land.

The racist assaults reported recently at a northern-suburbs Virgin Active gym tells us that, as a nation, we have tolerated racism and are paying dearly as a result.

Sometimes when my anger gets the best of me, I wonder if by continuing to respond softly to racist assaults, black people generally encourage their haters.

Their persistent failure to assert the righteousness of their strength as the ruling majority in a democracy makes them tacitly willing victims of this most heinous of crimes.

Furthermore, if we are to believe that economic inequality succeeds where legal apartheid failed, then “economic freedom in our lifetime” should be more than a sexy slogan. Its achievement should be made the measure of our very humanity.

Our silent willingness to be dressed in impoverished dashikis will only swell our parties with pitiful dialogues.

» Follow me on Twitter @Percy_Mabandu 

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