Let's think South African

2013-03-12 07:25

Over the weekend while I was in a taxi I overhead a conversation between two passengers talking about how much they despise black people who support the Democratic Alliance. According to them blacks who are Helen Zille supporters are "sellouts" and they will not "see heaven." After that comment I wanted to burst out laughing but I did not want to be busted for my eavesdropping (besides I was fascinated by this misguided way thinking).

It's no secret that South Africa is predominately made up of African National Congress supporters as the liberation movement cum ruling party fought valiantly for this country's freedom. Since 1994 it has all always dominated elections by consistently winning a two thirds majority in parliament with the Democratic Alliance nowhere near that margin. But things are beginning to change as the DA is slowly but surely making progress in increasing it's voter base in our almost two decade old democracy.

Democracy which a lot of people fought and died for is about fairness, equality and most importantly letting the people govern. It's also about the freedom of allowing people the right to choose which political organisation they want to be affiliated with. Living in a democratic state means that while you may not agree with other people, you have to

respect their opinions and be tolerant as it is every South African's right to endorse any political home they feel strongly represents them the best.

Americans are some of the most patriotic people youwill find on earth. While that country is politically divided between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats one thing they are more proud of than anything is that they are Americans. I have a friend who spent 18 months in the US and the one thing he says Americans can teach South Africans is to be proud to be South Africans despite our differences. While history's are not the same and comparisons are not fair, South Africa needs a generation of people that are willing to put it first despite their affiliations to the governing party or official opposition.

The problem with the kinf of thinking of those two passengers is that they associate black people with the ANC and white people with the DA and if it's vice versa its wrong. Why is that? What happened to SA being a democratic country that is pro-choice? Does being white mean one cannot relate with ANC policies? Why is a black person ostracised or labelled a sellout if they join the DA? Why must we as South Africans racialise whom people chose to be associated with?

South Africa has a painful past that will take longer than 19 years to get over if ever. The only way to dothat is to start working together as a country to  address lingering ramifications and injustices of the past. Government cannot function without the people who gave them the power. Employers have no companies to run if they have no employees and there is no South Africa if we are not proud South Africans.Voting once every four years is one way of upholding democracy but it doesn't end there. South Africans need to stop being spectators who are always looking for answers from the politicains. This country belongs to all who live in it and it is our duty to alleviate it to the greatest country it can be.

The rape scourge, high levels of crime, battling education system, rampant poverty and unemployment are problems we as South Africans should be collectively fighting. Social cohesion is possible if we are willing to accept our differences, see behind racial lines and start building a better nation. One of the reasons that the fall of the  apartheid government was successfully is because marginalised citizens came together, decided enough was enough and brought on a new dawn in a country that was filled with darkness.

It takes a village to raise a child is a popular saying that has all but lost it's meaning in SA. But if we are committed, persistent and motivated we can restore meaning to that powerful saying. We have got to stop seeing our challenges as unpenetrable conundrums, we have got to stop ostracising people because they different and we have to stop being spectators who are waiting for politicians and the powerful to make a difference. As South Africans we have the power to do anything if we apply ourselves.

I live you with the stanza from Ulysses "We are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are we are. One equal temper of heroic hearts made weak by time and fate but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield."

You can catch me on Twitter @BongaDlulane

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