The Psychology of our Disempowerment

2015-04-27 06:32

Our nation bleeds for the few that will have the greatness to bend history;

It laments the need for the effort of many to change small portion of occasions; and

Our Collective efforts will form the narrative of the history for this generation.

“The creative act is not pure. History evidences it. Sociology extracts it. The writer loses Eden, writes to be read and comes to realize that he is answerable.” Nadine Gordimer, South African novelist, short-story writer, and 1991 Nobel Prize winner for Literature quote is so true of how I feel today. It is hard to sit in silence and in the comfort of disinterest, when thing are falling apart. May I be answerable through my writing to the nation I love.

The past two decades of democracy were said to be about the empowerment of the marginalised. When empowerment was legislated through the Employment Equity Act and the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment, it became less embraced by those it aimed to empower and was labelled as unprogressive by those it threatened. Whether you love the Acts or hate them, one thing was always going to be a challenge with the end of the past era, our society would need to be empowered. This article is not about the merits of the Acts and please pause before posting any reverse discrimination comments below.

When an individual is empowered, he discovered a light that illuminates their outlook. Their outward outlook becomes the reflection of the optimism they feel on the inside. They are able to rise above  their poverty, and re-author their destiny. South Africa has many such narratives of a people that have embraced change and have become more than what their upbringing would have prepared them for. It is this force that we have failed to funnel into the vast majority of our people. The ascendency of a few has been held as the standard for many to live up to. Thus we have opposed the idea that if we help vast majority of our people step into a state of brilliance and affirmation, this nation will be a better place.

The corollary effect of empowerment is that as a society we would understand what it that disempowers us. Our social structure and the lack of a concerted effort to deliver skills to our people are more disempowering to our people than the existence of foreign economic migrants. Surely the lack of black scholars and black academic centres is more disempowering than the statues that sit at our academic institutions. We have rushed to plaster deeper wounds and are quick to provide solutions to symptoms of problems without seeking to understand real issues and problems of this nation. Denying this nation authentic empowerment of its entire people, and thus have become a disinterested society.

In the political welfare of a country national psychology is shaped by the philosophy adopted to establish sense of nationhood. What emotions are evoked when you hear the phrase “My fellow South Africans.” What is the national character of South Africa. National character refers to the values, norms and customs which people of a nation typically hold, their typical emotional responses, and what they regard as virtues and vices.

We need to have a shared sense of patriotism.  The ideal is to create a generation or two of South Africans that epitomise a national culture, much like the common sentimentalism all South African’s feel when we think about the life of Nelson Mandela.   We need to build a large national sentiment that South Africa is a great country that deserves to be more.

In trying phantom the issues that transpired throughout the country over the past four months, from the defacing of statue to the Xenophobic attacks. It is clear that we live in a country not well managed and the fundamentals of empowerment are ignored. We have become a reactionary society looking for band aid to cover a growing social wound, and unless we do something today the setting rot will be our undoing. I repeat that as a nation, we need to fully tabulate our national psychology on the following issues:

  1. Inequality between citizens
  2. Our common future across racial and ethnic lines
  3. Our commitment to growing the economy until we are all on equal footing
  4. Our work ethics as a people
  5. Our commitment to building South Africa not only as a rainbow nation but a coloured spectrum that can produce new colours as it adapts to externalities. Our diversity is now not only across race but also multinational relationships

We have over postponed the progress of this nation by failing to take stock of this little issue. Our National psyche is at its all-time low and disillusion is setting in on the nation. I covert the prayers of those of faith, for an Old Testament verse says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

I would like to also implore this nation’s law makers, especially legislators to bring the agenda of South Africa’s national psyche to the fore. How do we genuinely move forwards, when we have failed to build a society with a common social agenda? Can we stop debating all Hash tags and let’s now deal with the real issues faced by this nation #MyFellowSouthAfricans

“The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that things are not mended again.” ? Alan Paton, Cry, The Beloved Country

Happy Freedom Day South Africa!

Ps. Happy Birthday to my Tshiamo, in this your second birthday, may you grow to recognise that you are blessed to be born to this wonderful country. Its people have blessed the world with literature, science, politics and the gift of peace. So strong is your heritage that the cradle of humanity is your door step and Mamogale over shadows you home. Be Inspired Son!

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