Friends and friction: To save SA, we must learn to fly

THE seagulls in Port Elizabeth have ­acquired bad habits – they hang around the KFC at the promenade in Summerstrand, waiting for human beings to toss them some leftovers.

Some have even learnt to sit in the car park like car guards.

It is like walking into the world of Jonathan ­Livingston Seagull, beautifully described in ­Richard Bach’s book of the same name.

It is a pitiable sight when you come to think of it: birds that have lost ubunyoni, the bird ­equivalent of ubuntu.

The latter is the sum total of all things lofty, such as compassion, respect and dignity, that save us from the baseness of animals.

The opposite of ubuntu is ubunja, which ­literally means “dog”. Pigs are better because at least they contribute bacon to breakfast.

The dog pees on dustbins, chases cars, mates in public and is even described as umlahlwa ­nesikhumba, meaning “the one that is discarded with its skin”.

Seagulls are naturally graceful.

I sat on the pier and one came along and flew above me, its wingspan fully open, legs straightened, and hovered gracefully as if it was posing for me to take a photograph.

The beautiful bird flew away, up and then down, to hover over the beach and catch ­something.

I immediately remembered Jonathan Seagull when he said: “We can lift ourselves out of ­ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free!”

Free. More than 20 years into our democracy, we are still complaining that we have no ­economic freedom.

We are still talking about “radical economic transformation” like a groom who passes out ­during his own honeymoon and demands more time at the hotel from the manager.

We continue to walk with our eyes openly shut, and we are unable to see the delightful opportunities that are in our country.

Many people are chasing anything that looks like it can vomit money without investing the necessary time to be masters of their craft, or hoping that someone will call them for a BEE deal.

If we want transformation, we must teach our young people the honour of earning an honest living – this is the only path to success.

We have great South Africans, such as former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, who lead by example.

He is invited all over the world to give lectures on his craft.

Economic transformation depends on political consciousness and high discipline.

It can only be achieved if there is a clear understanding of why people should work, and not on infantile gurgles aimed at attracting memes.

The bickering among our leaders has in effect degenerated to a new form of black-on-black ­violence, and has gone way beyond the necessary tensions of democracy.

We must understand that a new nation will not be built overnight, much less by the gluttonous ingrates who want everything for themselves.

Being rich, we must learn, is not like adulthood, which is determined by reaching a certain age.

It is like blackness – a state of mind.

There are many businesspeople who have healthy bank balances, but are bitter and twisted, and fearful that they will die a lonely death.

The economic transformation we need should be founded on kindness and love for the people.

It is about going back to the basics, which ­includes discipline, education, a long-term view and hard work.

Like the seagull that flew above me in Port Elizabeth, glory does not lie in sitting in restaurants and car parks, but in flying high through heavy winds to see far and get the best reward.

Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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