Nation Building : The Greatest Contradiction from SONA 2015

2015-02-16 14:33

"The year 2015 marks 60 years of a historic moment in our history, when South Africans from all walks of life adopted the Freedom Charter in 1955, in Kliptown, Soweto. They declared amongst other things, that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people. That was a powerful, visionary and reconciliatory statement which set the tone for the non-racial democracy we have established.  This week we also mark 25 years since the release of President Nelson Mandela from prison, and since the unbanning of liberation movements. The release of Madiba marked a giant leap in the long walk to freedom for the people of South Africa as a whole and dealt a fatal blow to apartheid colonialism. We continue to be inspired by Madiba and draw lessons from his legacy as we build our country."   Pres. Jacob Zuma, SONA 2015

Its hard to imagine that the President uttered the words as part of his State of the Nation Address, with all the drama that ensued around the State of the Nation Address last week. The biggest casualty of the drama that will define South African politics for years is not the victim card that all parties are pulling, nor is it the political righteousness that all parties are claiming from the event. The greatest tragedy is that we have eroded further our social cohesion as a country.

How the SONA contributed to a fading culture of tolerance?

Our nation is nearing a great Social cliff defined by our inability to build a common psychology around what it means to be South African, despite race, wealth or gender. Consequently we have failed as a nation to define a new sociology that defines without contradiction what it means to live in South Africa as a reconciled society. The distrust within the races is genuine and continues to be fueled to grow. The disregard for this nation's heritage is continuously being fueled, by a social voice that purports that  1994 was a betrayal as opposed to a miracle.

I believe Nation Building in South Africa deserves more than just a mention, when the cracks around the subject are thickening with each day. The political intolerance that preceded the delivery of speech is a scary sign but not the worst casing point for political intolerance in South Africa. We seldom visit episodes where political difference and affiliations led to violent confrontations in South Africa. We don't visit the episodes of 200 or so people that died in KwaZulu Natal in the UDF-Inkatha conflicts, or the Counselor killings in the same province just a decade ago. We forget that before Marikana was an SAPS vs miners problem, it began with warring labour movements. We brush aside Xenophobic attacks as petty crime and we fail recognise that we are witnessing symptoms of a struggling society lost in identity, with no proper understanding of its standing in the world.

With the Rwandan history just 20 years ago, and with some politician within the EFF starring in the Award winning movie "Hotel Rwanda" how do we not frown at EFF leader Julius Malema, calling DA leader Helen Zille a cockroach. How do we loose sight of the power of influence we carry as politicians and resort to name calling like it Political maturity. The same should be said for the hooligan reference used by the ANC to the elected officials of the EFF. The boiling and social melt down is due to lack of Political foresight to gunner for tolerance and  expediency by the speaker between all members of the House before the State of the Nation Address, thus the failure of leadership should become the failure of a people.

Referencing Nation Building like its a Rhetoric in the SONA      

First nation building reference by the President in SONA 2015: "It is also the year of rededicating ourselves to eradicate racism and all related intolerance in our country."

If the President heart was honest to quote, It goes without saying that He should have mentioned the political intolerance that preceded the speech.

Second nation building reference by the President in SONA 2015: "It is also the year of investing more in our future, by educating our children and the youth about the rich heritage of this country. We are already inculcating a new national identity through promoting national symbols such as the national flag, the national anthem and the preamble of the Constitution in every school."

The President went on to mentioned some of his youth guests after the quote. Here is my challenge with Public relations, and a genuine take on the subject of nation building. How do we acknowledge school kids as guests, after such a display of political intolerance and not put the event in to  perspective. Even acknowledging how unfortunate the episode was would have sufficed. Also is the studying of national symbols the tool to use in building a common Society. Should we not be looking much more deeper to building a youth culture that celebrates being South African. Where is talk of school cultural exchange programmes,  how will a young white kid fare in a black township school and vice versa and what are the social gains from such interactions. All I am saying is that there is more to the subject.

Second nation building reference by the President in SONA 2015: "From this year, schools must also practice the African Union anthem, in preparation for the celebration of Africa month in May, as we implement the African Union decision in this regard."

 I missed the word Xenophobia from the Speech and the mention of the episode of intolerance just three weeks ago. Thus learning the African Union Anthem although commendable, significance may have been lost in the delivery the speech.

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