Friends & Friction: The SA story needs a new chapter

2014-05-07 10:00

On your marks. At your best. Go, South Africa, go. Different colours, different kits. Passions may flare, as they must.

They do in football, in music and all kinds of different races. After all, we are a passionate people and we know that competitors are not enemies but lovers of the same game.

Without losers there are no victors and without loss there can be no hope. When all has been said and done – when our tallest buildings lie in ruins like the pyramids, your corpse mummified and our cities destroyed like Ancient Rome, will coming generations judge us as some of the greatest contributors to humanity or will they think of us as insatiable gluttons who used up the world.

“YOLO – You Only Live Once” is the mantra destroying this generation even though it enjoys the shade of trees planted by the generations before it. This is the generation that benefited from the struggles of forebears like Makana and Cetshwayo, to mention only two, the freedom fighters who never tasted the perks of power.

The story of this generation – your story – needs to change if it is to have the happy ending this country so richly deserves.

This is how the new chapter may begin: “The campaigning had ended, and the campaigners had finished doing the dirty part of democracy and returned to the civility of building the country.

“No one was offended because everyone understood that going to the toilet is a necessary part of enjoying a good dinner, and that at some stage the beautiful ballroom gown has to be lifted or the pants lowered.

“The light that is democracy comes with its own shadow just like the day comes with its own night. Mistakes were made and losses incurred, but South Africa’s greatest assets, as everyone later found, do not lie in its mineral wealth but in the resilience of its people; their uncrushable will to win over any kind of adversity. In a country which seemed to have countless heroes, the people felt lost when their leaders were revealed to be mere mortals who lived according to the mantra of their time.

“South Africans had to learn that heroes do not descend from heaven. All they had to do was look in the mirror to see one.

“After May 7, South Africans returned to work, each one knowing they had a say in the affairs of their country, and they were its shareholders. Talk is cheap, even if it is done through the ballot, and so they did something to improve their lives and that of the people around them.

“Aware the critics were always ready to tell them they were inadequate, that corruption ruled their lives, that there was not an ounce of positivity in their country, and the best people had already left, they still worked because they knew the greatness of a country lies in its people doing something positive with their lives and taking care of their neighbours.”

Strut your stuff, South Africa. You are the hope for all of Africa. All bets are against you. The punters don’t see that you are a vibrant democracy. Don’t expect their hands to applaud, they’re too busy trying to pull you down. They’ll never catch you because you have an amazing ability to surprise.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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