Oh, how our
country cries! Look at how she weeps for her fallen children.
I would address
you as "my fellow South Africans," but that has a political tinge to
it. It has an air of grandstanding. So I will not do that. I will instead
address you as "my fellow human beings".
In the wake of
tragedies like last week's shooting at the Durban University of Technology (DUT),
it is easy to forget that core fellowship. It is easy to try shatter our nation
like glass. It is easy to try hit the main switch on hope and descend into
It is easy to try.
You will probably get quite far – but you will never succeed!
No matter how hard
we try to divide ourselves – be it through race, class, creed or character – we
cannot fully succeed. The human race can never be totally divided. It is our
nature as homo sapiens to carry with us a spark. This spark is hope. In the
darkness we find ourselves in, that hope will light our way home.
I refer to the
wave of violence and protest that has begun to crash onto our campuses. I refer
to the protests at Wits and UKZN. I have already referred to one deadly
incident. I fear that more are to come.
These dark times
come because of promises that acted like sunsets. They shone bright and
illuminated our skies, but they all to quickly dipped below the horizon. Now, a
whole generation is left in darkness. The sun has set.
Any sane person
would wish that they could will the light back into existence. I will not be so
bold. I know that no matter how hard I hope it to not be so, this year will
likely be one of unrest on our campuses. We can wish that cries for promised
free education will be speedily received, but we cannot bank on a wish.
That is why I
write to you, students and comrades. I cannot steer fate. I cannot decide what
a whole generation will do.
I can only say
this: remember the spark.
Remember the spark
of humanity that unites us all. This is not a war of alien species. We are one
family engaged in an all too familiar argument – but we are still family!
marching through the streets are human like you. The students who just want to
get on with their studies are human. The leadership (be it in government or the
universities) are human. The private security – who have used deadly force
against our students are human.
In the wake of
tragedy, in the wake of injustice, we can choose hate. I understand why you
might. But please remember our common humanity.
Also remember that
hate only hurts one person: you. It builds and boils. It eats you from the
inside. It will add you to the list of casualties of a war that doesn't have to
I call on all
actors on the stage of this play to realize who stands in front of them. I call
on you to abandon hate. I call on you to embrace love.
Only love can
carry us through the dark times ahead – if they do come.
Only love will
Only love will
guarantee that our parents get to see us again when the holidays come.
neighbors. Love your enemies.
It is said that
revolution is an act of love. Let us then be revolutionaries.
- Matthew Field is
a student at UCT and one of News24's 100 Young Mandelas.