Forget Race relations, let's just assume South Africa will fix itself!

2016-07-01 18:46

Our country is becoming undone at the sims by fundamental challenges that are not going away anytime soon. Most of our population almost half is out of work. The beacon of hope, which is the education system is riddled with quality challenges and lack of resources. The infrastructure that suppose to stimulate the economy is either poorly located or lagging behind. The poor continue to be marginalised by spatial challenges especially in urban spaces, relegating them to informal settlements, poor healthcare and a public service system that's unable deliver services evenly to them.

Even against this background, the biggest biggest elephant in the room and perhaps the most telling foundation to fixing South Africa, remains this very unchangeable fact. South Africa is governed by a majority black parliament and from them working ideas should be generated to address the challenges faced by the country today.  An expectation on black South Africans, further contradicted by the fact that post-apartheid black South African society continues to be embarrassed by endless incidents of impropriety including acts of corruption, neglect or abuse of power and authority. There is no defence to the heavy cloud of corruption and impropriety surrounding the black leadership/managerial class.  Black leadership has failed to rise above the sustained belief that Africans are genetically incapable of rising above centuries of bad press. Feeding into the stereotype of black ineptitude and generally unfounded assumptions on black society as a lazy and unintelligent society.

Correcting Perceptions

Our Social structures in SA face a unique challenge stemming from 1994 transition. After the first national election, the buzz word was reconciliation.  A foreign concept to this nation, even with our dialogues before the election. Reconciliation assumed that all South Africans had a common reference point for what would constitute a New Nation. An impossible idea also considering that as a nation we do not share a history of mutual conciliation and equal nationality. The lack of this common reference point has resulted in our mutual racial affinities defining us first, before our nationality. I am black before I am South African, much as I am white, before all things.

The resulting reality has a bearing on the momentum required by South Africa to achieve economic success. Firstly, blacks have ironically become the biggest paddlers of distrust on black leadership and managerial class, due to black ineptitude today stemming from their lack of confidence of the current leadership. Secondly  there are noted dangers for a society that fails to rise above its gravitas adversity for lack of self affirmation, a black nation that believes in its doom, more than its potential will not change this country.  Finally, who is to define the terms through which we are to thrive as a country, and the responsibility of all races is understood, when leadership only struggles to prove its innocence from corruption every day and not its relevance to rule.

In the absence of leadership, things take shape as nature would have, I suppose. We are building in earnest and at a rapid pace a society driven by fear. This fear has manifest itself in our recent news cycles through an irrational manifestation of racist rants pointing to social group that feel the need to reaffirm its supremacy ;  more people are starting to defend the apartheid system (even in politicking, when the education system in 1976 could be compared to today)  and maybe more disturbing  the legal pursuit by local organisation to try stall  institutions against racial integration, even under the guise of "Freedom of association".

The myth of the exceptional Black man 

Now it is possible that the corruption witness in everyday public life in South Africa is the exception and the norm is great men and women delivering everyday without a bone of corruption in them. As media would reflect it though the exception will always be the other way round. So there is always the exception to the rule, where personalities such as Thuli Madonsela, Dikgang Moseneke, nelson Mandela, Sizwe Nxasana, Thabo Mbeki and so forth have stood out as competent black leaders. Hence creating, what the South African President Jacob Zuma, for lack a better a phrase dubbed, “clever blacks” but may I suggest the synonymous phrase is “exceptional blacks.”    Exceptional blacks are those who are “not like other blacks”. It is this group of people, I guess that give black people a good name so to say! i am opposed though to the creation of such an exceptional class within our society. The very existence of such a distinguishable class of people means when black people  do something good, it is downplayed, overlooked or written off as an exception. For example:

  • When any reference is made about the city of Great Zimbabwe or Mapungubwe? The standard response is never heard of it, despite it being part of the local history as much as the founding of the Cape of Good Hope.
  • If i were to put it to the public that South African black middle-class is bigger than white middle-class and as such more individual tax revenue in SA paid by black people? the natural answer will be, that cannot be right.
  • If it is suggested that Timbuktu proves black intellectual depth and historic conservation? The natural answer is to dismiss it as Arab influence.
  • So someone does not fit the stereotypes? they are not like other blacks, they are exceptional black people.

When blacks do something bad, it proves how screwed up they are.

  • Psychopathic killers? Proof that blacks are violent and savage.
  • High rates of poverty? Proof of black pathologies and laziness
  • Mugabe’s presidency of Zimbabwe? Proof that blacks are not fit for self-government.
  • Someone fits a stereotype? the Stereotype proved true!

In short, the minute we forget our worth as a people and begin to view ourselves through the stereotypical eye, we cease from being forward looking in building our country. Black exceptionalism does exist but it’s not a discrimination tool to separate black people into new social classes. The truth is that we have a growing pool of competent and forward thinking people in South Africa, and their ability to collaborate and lead the required revolution should not be limited by, “what type of black people are they?” Black people in South Africa are currently entrusted with leading this country, and there is no time for excuses, they should just deliver. Any perceived continued failure will destroy, many future generation of society seeking to find an inspiration from the current set of leaders.

Be Inspired SA!

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