South Africa’s Future: We’re Not Involved

2013-12-02 06:07

"I'm from generation undecided," sings Emeli Sande

This line stood out to me because I see a lot of indecision amongst my peers. Is this because we as the "Y" generation don't have enough mentors or ethical business people to look up to that are very decisive?

It's easy to be indecisive. When one is presented with an opportunity as simple as driving home with multiple routes to use to get home indecision can creep into the mindset. Having options can be daunting to some people, so much so that people end up caving and deciding to not do anything at all.

Is this the generation I come from?

A generation that’s filled with experts on how the country should be run, but always dictate from the sidelines. I come from a generation with more – more opportunities, more freedom, more power but we do nothing with it except complain. Where are our team players?

We complain about everything that’s “not in our power” and yet when given the opportunity to do something with that power, we reject it simply because “It changes nothing." Which leads me to question, are we a generation that is brilliant at finding fault in everything, but refuse to get involved because we feel we have very little power?

I sometimes sit and wonder when our generation will realise that our country’s future is in their hands? When will we realise that we are part of the problem? We can sit on the sidelines, pointing fingers at each other but when it comes time to execute, we do nothing? Why? Are we lazy? Or have we put ourselves on such a pedestal that we have forgotten that we are also a part of a nation? That what affects one of us, may directly or indirectly affect all of us?

I find it fascinating how we are quick to attack our government for failing to deliver on promises they made, but are we upholding our end of the deal?

I ask this because I so often see opportunities for us to get involved, and we don’t. We’re so focused on living this blinged-up YOLO lifestyle that we forget that sometimes, there are more important things.

It’s great being a South African with a previously disadvantaged background. I say this because if you are reading this post it’s probably because you are no longer disadvantaged, hence “previously”. Keeping the “previously” there gives us leeway. We are allowed to be negative, sensitive and argumentative because look at what has happened to us in the past!

I am a big Maslow fan. The hierarchy of needs suggests that this “previously” disadvantaged group should be a lot more positive and proactive than we are. Our needs are met, we have no excuse to be tired and negative individuals. The opposite of passion is indifference. I would rather we were indifferent than passionate passive activists… which is really just a fancy way of saying we whine a lot.

It scares me - that the fate of our nation is lying in the hands of people, namely us, who generally seem very self-absorbed, very unaware of situations and unaware of our power. We may eventually realise that this power can change things, but by then it will probably be too late.

My friend @kapulo likes giving counter arguments and has raised the following points.

"Blame games aren't fun but sometimes the media is partly to blame, especially the private media. They are obviously running a business so profits are the agenda, but that doesn't mean the media shouldn't be lifting the spirits of the nation. Every day, articles or pieces of breaking news are predominantly negative - as in crime related. This could be the very reason why we have come to accept crime as an everyday part of our lives. It seems only gruesome crimes that still rally us into action.

"The media are always telling us what's wrong with our government - these media are the same media that feed us visual or musical content from the western world that promotes lifestyles the average unemployed black South African can't afford.

"If you're constantly being told about what's wrong with something without coming up with solutions then you're bound to pick up the same trait that's being promoted. That probably happens on a subconscious level, I reckon. But that's how I think the media operates, you're welcome to correct me where you think I'm wrong."

We are quick to point out the flaws in all systems but yet we can't step up to fix it? What's wrong with our generation? It is characterised by uninformed opinions, empty gestures and no action.

Many have even said the older generations fought for this, yet we seem to be throwing it back at their faces. Speak to members of the older generations, they marvel at the advancement of technology and yet lambast the fact that we are not utilising it. We have tools they didn't have but what are we using them for? To complain? Moan? Belittle one other?

When our parents took rubber bullets to their bodies, we viewed it as bad. We have every right to. We even heard of stories of people who go up to Home Affairs with toy guns to get the service they promised. Do we have to resort to such instead of fixing what's wrong with our country? We have avenues we can use to complain and see if solutions are implemented but we settle for, "Oh well, bad service is the norm," or “It’s African time, have patience.” and then we wonder why Africa is associated with negative connotations.  We are quick to get angry when criticism is levelled at our continent, even if it is constructive, yet we do nothing to eliminate the problems.

Are we going to sit by the sidelines and not do something? Is "something" complaining and expecting bad results? Why don't we ensure that the results are beneficial to us? Ensure that they result in an even better future than what we have?

We, the generation who is well aware of the rape issue that has South Africa in its clutches, fail to mobilise and go out into areas where we – those who know “better”, those who’ve been educated on the subject at hand, can educate those who may not be as knowledgable as we are on the issue.

We are capable of ranting about it on Twitter, but when it comes to planning and executing something that can be a long-term solution to reduce the numbers, we fail. Have we really learnt nothing about conceptualising and executing from our country's history?

It is highly unlikely that the student rally from 1976 was executed the same day it was planned. That must have taken months of planning, months of decision making before executing - we have the numbers and yet, we can’t do anything?

Also, as the 2014 elections draw near, we seem to forget that our parents struggled for us to have the right to vote, and yet so many young South Africans are choosing to not vote. Isn’t it ironic how we won’t use this opportunity to cast our vote? What is not voting going to achieve? What message are you trying to convey? Are you aware that choosing not to vote counts as a vote? Then again, we’re not too focused on the elections, because as it stands, we have the right to choose not to cast our vote, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose of what our nation has been through?

We, a generation from a fighting generation, what are WE fighting for? We have to be accountable, take responsibility for our actions (or lack thereof) and enforce change if we are unhappy.

So, to my generation, when are we going to own up to the fact that we are part of the problem? When will we stop celebrating mediocrity and promote excellence? When are we going to stop expecting government to fix everything and start taking things into our own hands? Why do we sit and wait when our nation's history has shown us that waiting on government to change our situation fixes nothing?

Stop being comfortable, this is YOUR future, if you don’t take control of it, then who will?

You can follow me on twitter: @LeratoMannya

** Thanks to all those who contributed to this article:

Sadie Rhode (@SadieWiggles), Moses M (@kapulo), Azeeza Rangunwala (@krazeescientist), & Siphiwe Zwane (@SDotJR_)

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