Society key in building social cohesion

2020-04-15 06:03
Nosipho Singiswa - Social Observer

Nosipho Singiswa - Social Observer

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With 2030 being only ten years away, just how on track is South Africa in achieving this ideal state of the nation, ultimately achieving a high level of social cohesion?

This is a question the Indlulamithi South Africa Scenarios 2030 project looks to answer.

Through extensive research, Indlulamithi developed three probable scenarios for the country, namely Isibhujwa, Nayi le walk and Gwara Gwara.

Considering how factors like education, crime, the employment rate and health care are most likely to shape social cohesion by the year 2030, these three scenarios imagine three possible and different outcomes.

The Department of Arts and Culture describes social cohesion as “the degree of social integration and inclusion in communities and society at large, and the extent to which mutual solidarity finds expression among individuals and communities.”

It continues to state that, in terms of this definition, a community or society is cohesive to the extent that inequalities, exclusions, distrust and conflict are reduced or eliminated in a planned and sustained manner.

Such exclusions and disparities are based on ethnicity, gender, class, nationality, age or disability – or any other distinctions which engender divisions.

“Community members and citizens should be active parti­cipants working together for the attainment of shared goals designed and agreed upon to improve the living conditions for all.”

Our communities cannot be removed from nation-building.

The role of communities and community leaders in ensuring social cohesion, pride and shared values is fundamental.

Sustainable social cohesion needs to begin at a community level. It is therefore vital that our communities do not only look to the government to ensure that every community – and individual, – has equal access to education, health care, land and employment opportunities. They also need to identify themselves as agents of change; agents that can assist in creating a stable, prosperous, united and equitable country through their efforts.

These efforts can include forming community groups like policing forums, education forums and street committees that will lodge community issues with councillors, but also follow up with the action that has been taken to solve issues.

Global studies have shown that when members of a residential area have shared trust and unity, health outcomes improve and the rate of violent crimes drops.

When communities function and grow together in harmony, rather than in conflict, the whole of society benefits.

One study in particular found that higher levels of community cohesion in Mpumalanga resulted in less heavy drinking, thereby improving sexual health and HIV-related outcomes.

As a nation faced with inequality, unemployment and poverty,with these mostly negatively impacting our communities our communities cannot lay dormant and wait for the government to deliver solutions.

Positive actions have been taken in the past; however, it is now time to take drastic actions that will force our government to deliver activities that will lift our communities and people out of poverty, securing a better future for the next generation.

As Coretta Scott King stated, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members”.


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