Howard Feldman

OPINION: We can celebrate the Boks and still be worried about SA

2019-11-06 15:58
Siya Kolisi and the Springboks during the team's arrival media conference at OR Tambo International Airport. (Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Siya Kolisi and the Springboks during the team's arrival media conference at OR Tambo International Airport. (Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images) (Gallo Images)

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I would be shocked if any of the millions of South Africans who have celebrated the Springbok win believe that because we returned with the World Cup, our problems have been solved. It's nonsensical in the extreme, writes Howard Feldman.

"The economy is in a slump; our ratings are negative; our schools don't work for the majority; and there are indications of more load shedding. So why are South Africans dancing in the streets, at airports..." Professor Jonathan Jansen asked of his more than 100 000 Twitter followers this week.

My answer? Because we are nuanced and complex and capable of joy even in adversity. It's what makes us human and awesome.

And I believe that. I believe that at the height of our joy we are capable or remembering those who suffer just as in the depth of our struggle we can find light and reason to smile.

If South Africa's Rugby World Cup win over the English this past weekend couldn't provide some cause for celebration, then it is uncertain if anything will.

OPINION | Melanie Verwoerd: Our response to the Springboks victory shows we're more united than divided

Once again South Africa finds itself divided. This time it is not along racial lines, but rather in camps of positivity and negativity. Groups of optimists versus pessimists; divided in terms of who is prepared to celebrate each moment as opposed to those who refuse to do so.

The non-celebrators themselves are not united. The Jonathan Jansens seem to worry about the bigger picture and that in all this joy we might forget to fix problems. Which is why there seems to be an insistence that each ill is sorted before encouraging or condoning frivolity.

Whereas I might disagree with this approach, there is still an element of rational debate.

Not so with the EFF. "Congratulations to #SiyaKolisi… the rest go get your congratulations from Prince Harry", was the now infamous tweet of EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. It is unclear why he would choose to write this, or what it even really means, but it is clear that his intention was not to be positive.

Even following the reaction from EFF supporters, both he and the EFF chose to double down on the negativity and to lock themselves into a position that will do them or the country no favours. That the party decided to remain seated during the celebration in Parliament, speaks volumes, and is as clear an indication as there ever has been that the EFF has little interest in unity but a very significant interest in divisiveness.

South Africans want to celebrate and for once the EFF has read the mood wrong. In doing so they have separated themselves from the country and placed themselves on the fringe of South African society. This is a massive pity, given that they have much to contribute towards national discourse and debate. As experts in social media, there is little doubt that they will be aware of this and will need to decide on their next move. We can expect to see a rash of support for new and popular causes or with obstructive behaviour in Parliament or at a municipal level. Watch this space.

I would be shocked if any of the millions of South Africans who have celebrated the Springbok win believe that because we returned with the Rugby World Cup, that our problems have been solved. It's nonsensical in the extreme and insulting to the people of the country.

South Africans are well aware of the challenges that we face. We are deeply conscious of the myriad of problems in our society. But we are also nuanced and smart enough to be able to celebrate each victory without being constantly reminded why we should not.

Poetry is often written in angst. Music is frequently composed following a break-up and Jewish grooms break a glass at their wedding so that even in joy they remember loss. We are built to handle complexity, and suggesting otherwise is to not only lose the joy that every day brings but to deny ourselves of the exquisite feeling of success.

- Howard Feldman is a keynote speaker and analyst. He is the author of three books and is the morning talk show host on ChaiFM.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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