We are still on our own

2011-05-07 12:26

The build-up to the local government elections made me realise that, sadly, I am a political orphan.

I’m the same person whose black-consciousness coloured upbringing had me wearing Azapo’s Steve Biko T-shirts long before Sowearto or Big Blue realised how cool he was and how much money they could make if they stuck a ridiculous price tag on his face.

I participated in meetings of black students who felt marginalised and silenced by an old, white university and was part of a group that started up a journal to give voice to such issues and experiences.

But let’s face it, the black consciousness movement has not been successful in defining itself in order to find relevance in the current political sphere.

And a weekend coup that saw Thabo Mbeki being recalled and replaced with Jacob Zuma, even after his messy corruption and rape trials, made it abundantly clear to me that there was much political manoeuvring happening behind the scenes.

Looking at the weaknesses of the opposition parties, I was not about to find one that would rouse any passion from me.

But a conversation with a friend put me at ease with this rather conflicted existence. “It’s not political apathy, it’s bulls**t intolerance,” he said.

It has been all too easy for political leaders to brand young people as politically apathetic with little sense of history and no understanding of the sacrifices made by all those who liberated this country.

We are shunned as people who don’t care about politics, who don’t love our country and hence should not be engaged with on any matters.
That’s all good and well now, but what happens in 20 years time when we have no political leaders?

People at the top seem too consumed by their race for power and BEE deals to lead and bring about the change their voters have been demanding.

For me, real change won’t come from the state but rather from the communities we need to create and strengthen.

We need civil intervention and less state dependence. We all need to be more proactive and resourceful in devising solutions for the problems we face each day.

While they jostle for power, our education system is deteriorating and the unemployment rate is soaring.

It’s up to communities to stand up and say that we refuse to have uneducated and unskilled kids, and we refuse to be unemployed.

We need young graduates to start up tutoring programmes while seeking jobs.

We need young entrepreneurs to see the gaps in the market that can be exploited, and private businesses to train and fund young minds.

I have grown tired of watching leaders play their power games with people’s lives, and tired of a people growing more and more paralysed by state dependency.

So come May 18, I think I’ll get up bright and early, head down to my voting station and exercise my right to spoil my ballot.

I was considering not voting at all but the mere right to vote came from a bloody and painful struggle.

I have heard so many conversations in packed taxis about the failures of this government, which end with “mara at least it’s a black government”.

But that is just not enough any more.

We need a people’s government dedicated to the upliftment of its nation, and politicians who understand their duty and accountability to their supporters.

Until then, this is a political game I refuse to play. And it’s far from apathy.

I’m far too busy making a real difference to be bothered to keep up this facade of “genuine liberation”.

What started out as a varsity journal that sought to spark constructive debates about the roles we all play in our different societies, has now grown into a movement of young graduates who refuse to let the education system continually fail students.

We have piloted a tutoring programme for Naledi High students and will soon be rolling it out to other schools in the area.

I guess the words of Mahatma Gandhi have never been more true: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

» ?Follow Qhakaza on Twitter @Qhakaza

City Press on Twitter: @City_Press

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