South Africans Anonymous: in need of the Prayer of Serenity

2013-01-16 05:30

NB: this is NOT a religious article. Read with a pinch of humour.

First, some definitions:

The Serenity Prayer is a common prayer mainly used by Alcoholics Anonymous in their meetings. It goes like this:

God grant me the - Serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; and Wisdom to know the difference. Definition of Serenity: The state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled

OK, let’s start:

South Africans

One person once wrote, "the people who wanted to emigrate to Australia (or wherever else) have all emigrated already, those who are here are those who want to be here”. I would love to believe it’s true -but in fact, those who have remained are those who really want to stay, those still planning to leave and those for whom leaving is really not a feasible option. But as of now, we are all here as South Africans.

We may love to hate our country at times; we get frustrated at times at our government, at crime, at racism, poor education, etc. But nonetheless, we are here as South Africans.

Yet, we are so agitated; we are in desperate need of the Prayer of Serenity. Some of us are more ‘serenity deficient’ than others. Some never tire of making noise, complaining and whining about everything that goes wrong. Some choose to sit back quietly and enjoy their comfortable spaces, hoping nothing will affect them directly.

As South Africans, we need to learn to accept the things we cannot change about our country, the courage and will to change the things we can and the wisdom to tell the difference. As it is currently, those without wisdom, keep on fighting even when their effort is futile. Those without courage sit back complacently, when they could actually be doing something to change something.

We have come to a point where each seeks to validate their ‘betterness’ by how much they can highlight the wrongs in the country. If you follow these blogs, you will have noted that the best articles (in terms of readership and comments) are those that seek to criticize the government or highlight the wrongs of the country in one way or the other - you write such an article, you become the darling of every reader. But how many actually stand up and do something? We have the wisdom to identify the wrongs, but no courage or will to stand up and do something.

Oh South Africans, such a desperate need for 'Serenity'. If you are a South African, say ‘Aye’.

Across Racial Lines

I’ll be brief here, I know you ‘South Africans’ hate this racial profiling, as far as you’re concerned we should stop looking at each other in terms of black and white, only as human beings. But let’s not fool ourselves - we can’t change the fact that we of different races and that racism is very much alive. Remember: change what you can & accept what you can’t. So briefly:

Blacks – black people need the wisdom to know when to stop blaming apartheid, and the courage to get up and change for themselves what they can – without blaming everything on either apartheid or the government.

So hey, if you are a beneficiary of either AA or BEE, say ‘Aye’.

Whites – white people need to stop complaining and whining about everything in this country – corrupt government, failing state, crime, ailing economy, etc., and actually have the courage to stand up and do your bit to address the pertinent issues. Don’t ask me how; remember, you need wisdom to tell the difference.

If you identify with any of the ‘vile white tendencies’ - say ‘Aye’.

Ok, enough about this racial bit – see I kept it short.

Politics - ANC

The African National Congress. The party representing the core of the struggle against apartheid. The party whose key personality and symbol is none other than the world icon, Nelson Mandela. The party which, for most South Africans, is their ‘one and only’. The party which Mr. van Schalkwyk decided to succumb to in the interest of peace and unity (or defeat). The party that brought about political freedom in this country. Ok, enough with the praises.

The majority of South Africans are supporters of the ANC – mostly and mainly because of these legacy issues mentioned above. But how many have actually started to question the ANC, its leadership and its record of late? How many have, time and time again, questioned their alliance and allegiance to this mighty party. With all the shenanigans of the last few years, most young (and adult) people have found it less and less glamorous to be associated with the ANC. But oh, are we ‘addicted’ to the ANC? We need deliverance.

Most who are unhappy with the ANC would rather not vote at all, than give their vote to another political party. Voting for another political party as a black person is considered ‘selling out’ against the struggle, ‘giving power back to the whites’.

Time and time again, we have heard ANC leaders utter the words “It’s cold outside the ANC”. And so, even those who would have the wisdom to dare take the ANC on do not have the courage to do so. Those who have tried, have shown just how true this saying really is – they just don’t COPE.

Unfortunately, as we also learn, not only is it cold ‘outside the ANC’, but it seems it’s just as cold should you find yourself on the other side of the fence ‘within the ANC’. Otherwise, how do you explain Mr. Motlanthe having stood on the fence for so long leading up to the ANC conference, instead of coming out straight and announce whether he would stand against Zuma or not. He probably had the wisdom to know what needed to change, but didn’t have the courage to go ahead with it – a typical example of ‘serenity deficiency’ – trapped, addicted to the status quo. Brother Kgalema was in need of a 'Serenity' prayer.

Again, look at Brother Julius, uhm….Ok, I think ‘this kind needs fasting and prayer’. Let’s me move on.

I’m inclined to believe that the most powerful challenger to the ANC will emanate from within the ANC itself. But who within the ANC will ever have the courage and wisdom to take on the ANC? Even Thabo Mbeki, having been embarrassed and having proved to have a fair number of supporters (judging from Polokwane), never had the courage to return and take on the ANC (not publicly at least). Loyalty cannot be used as an excuse for lack of courage. Julius Malema had to plead not to be expelled from the party, because he just couldn’t imagine life outside the ANC – no matter how much ill-treated, no matter how much he didn’t agree with the leadership or policies at the time. But, as I’ve said, his is a special case – maybe a classic case of courage without wisdom? (Sorry Juju).

People need the wisdom and courage to challenge and change that which can be changed. Otherwise, we are leaving in a world of ‘same old, same old’, yet misguidedly ‘towards a better future for all’ which remains in the ‘unreachable future’

Maybe ANC is our drug – we are drugged by the history and legacy issues that we get fed all the time to get us hooked and keep us loyal, then find it hard to break away.

If you know what I’m talking about, or agitated by it, say ‘Aye’.

Politics – the DA

Where do I start? I once read a book about different management styles (my then manager made me read it); and one of the styles discouraged is the one where, as a leader, you try to catch your subordinates doing something wrong (ignoring the good they do) – then display your authority. It seems that’s the style the DA have consistently decided on as official opposition: ‘try to catch the ANC government doing something wrong’. And, goodness me, they never miss a spot.

As for courage, let’s give it to them. But they need the wisdom to know what they need to make noise about, and when. I swear, sometimes it feels like Ms. Mazibuko is always holding a magnifying glass over Zuma – and oh, does Zuma feel the heat! Seems the problem here is that the DA think and believe they can change/ ‘fix’ everything in government. They lack the wisdom to know the difference - they are lacking in that part of 'Serenity'.

If Zille is your madam or Lindiwe your mistress, say “Aye”.

Politics – Small Parties

Then we have these small political parties having one or two seats in parliament. Among which are the two ANC breakaways, UDM and COPE – all reduced to irrelevancy. There’s also a few other parties who define their relevancy by representing a niche group within the country, like the ACDP (Christian), the Freedom Front plus (Afrikaner), and others.

They know very well that they will never really escalate themselves beyond a few seats in parliament, let alone strong enough to be official opposition. Yet, they live under the illusion that they have a say in parliament – but we all know only the ANC has a say in parliament; ok, the DA too – we all know Helen and Lindiwe always have ‘a lot to say’.

But, credit where it’s due. They had and still have the courage to be different, to not go with the crowd. It takes some doing for the UDM to still be in existence today. As for COPE, well…again ‘fasting and prayer’ is needed here. But where is the wisdom in their being.

If you belong to, or in leadership of, one of these small political parties, say ‘Aye’.


Welcome to South Africans Anonymous. I’ll start with the introduction:

Hi, my name is Xolani Khumalo, I’m a South African and I’m classified as ‘Black’. Not only that, but I’m also an ardent supporter of XXX political party. I need the prayer of Serenity.

You go next…

Then, let us all bow our heads in prayer:

God grant me the -

Serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

and Wisdom to know the difference.

Amen and Thank You.

Despite the seriousness of these and other issues, we also ought to laugh at ourselves a bit -  so, I hope you read this with some sense of humour.

One more thing: turn to the fellow South African next to you, regardless of race or political affiliation,  pat on the shoulder and say “Hey buddy, we are in this together. Happy 2013”.

Want to turn to me and say same thing? Follow me on twitter, @Xolanik


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

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