There is moral degeneration in South Africa that directly reflects the politics of the country.
This rot manifests in many forms.
Children are killing parents, teachers have discarded their duties as guardians and politicians are looting from the very people they are expected to help bring out of poverty.
These issues must be confronted precisely because they speak to the fibre of our society.
To find solutions to some of these issues, we all need to play a proactive role, and honesty must be at the centre of it.
This piece is an invitation for us to think critically about who we are as a society, and perhaps find ways in which we can restore some of the values that we have lost.
One of the worst things that colonialism, apartheid and capitalism did to our people was to destroy the black family structure.
Because of migrant labour, black people were forced to leave their homes and their families to slave in cities.
Remember, the family is the basic building block of society – when the family is damaged, the entire society is damaged.
So, because of this cruel system, children were left without fathers and mothers.
They were left to find their own way, and parents were not able to transfer systems of knowledge to their children.
In this way, we lost values such as ubuntu, inhlonipho (respect) and nokuphilisana (living side by side in harmony).
Capitalism is an inherently evil system that thrives on concepts such as hate, jealousy and inhumanity.
The system wants you to be jealous of the next person so that you will strive to accumulate more than what the other has.
We see this in the emerging middle class, which mostly gauges its success according to what its peers have.
The level of opulent and flamboyant lifestyles can be seen in clubs as each tries to prove who the better “baller” is.
We see it in the level of debt that people are in because they buy things that they do not even need.
We even have sayings such as “umuntu omnyama akafuni ukubona omunye umuntu ephakama [a black person does not want to see another black person succeed]”.
This does not happen because we were born like that as a race, but because of the system in which we exist.
This system has turned us into our very own enemies and we do this without even flinching.
Of course, the solutions to this are not clear-cut, but the beginning is to perhaps appreciate and understand what has caused us to be like snakes that eat one another and our children.
We see this in the kind of people that we sometimes meet in the city.
People who are able to spend R100 000 on alcohol and fancy lifestyles, yet close the car window whenever there is a beggar on the street; people who do not care to think about whether there are people who need some help, people who might not have anything to eat or somewhere to find shelter.
I am not suggesting some narrow philanthropy here.
I am aware that many of the problems we face are structural and will need solutions that are much deeper than just a change of behaviour.
But I insist that, even in the pursuit of freedom, we should also be engaged in imagining the kind of people we want to be post-revolution.
It is perhaps not easy for us to go back to who we were before colonialism and apartheid.
It is true that the core of our being has been so radically affected that it might even be impossible for us to trace who we are.
But we should never forget. We must not forget our parents and the people we left in our villages when we arrived in the cities.
We also must not allow the friends we have made – who are sometimes interested in nothing but our wealth – to lead us to forget the essence of what makes a person a human being.
The burden of repairing our nation and determining its course lies directly with us.
We must not leave it to someone else or pretend that we do not see that there is something seriously wrong with the ways in which we relate to one another as people.
Let us sweep our yard, for if it is dirty, we will not even know what we have lost.
Dlamini is a #FeesMustFall activist
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