There Was Never A Rainbow

2015-04-16 15:22

And it's not because Mandela has passed.

Each country has its own heroes, or self-proclaimed heroes, in any cause. Nelson Mandela's case is an interesting one. His heroic nature was first acclaimed by the then recently victorious US, (after having sanctioned South Africa themselves), and the world followed suite. (As it usually does)

His human form, emerging from the bars that had failed to imprison his ideals, became the face of that which would come to be considered the biggest victory over conflict in all times: a new beginning for this marvelous and prosperous country, South Africa.

Ever since, South African money has been increasing its name and worth by stamping Mandela's face on all its transactions.  Cities have been built, roads have been named and renamed, and fresh glorious statues have been erected, all to symbolize Mandela's influence and legacy. (#MustFall?)

The point: Mandela, despite his physical absence, remains the one and ultimate leader and spokesperson of this country's past, present and, well, extremely blurry future.

Still, South Africa fails to adhere to a national identity.

Failing to find themselves at home, and at the sight of the thriving outsiders, what left to feel if not frustration and anger? Put service delivery, government incompetency, political apathy, corruption and all social ills aside: Do you, as a South African, feel at home?

"Home" remains such a contentious term in South African dialogue, as individuals were taught to define home as land ownership, and ownership as a means of power, a tool of oppression, or the weapon used against the oppressed.

Additionally, the concept of being Zulu first. Taking comfort in the mantles of tradition when the flag fails to accommodate all the notions and ideas it promises to invoke. Tribalism is not a choice, it's a response. It is a mechanism of differentiation that emerges out of desperation; out of the negated desire to come together under a shared sun.

Looking at the current Xenophobic attacks (one must, inevitably), and after having witnessed the statements issued by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, several questions remain anxious to be posed.

Is this attack a Zulu thing? Is this attack happening in one province alone? By one tribe alone? Does it reflect all South Africans and their sentiments?

Indeed, there is a vivid economic and resource scarcity in the country. Indeed, locals should not be "competing" over ownership of these resources, but surely these attacks are all too violent. Are they?

Barbarism comes merely as a means to counteract this 'Rainbow Nation" myth that will not leave the streets of South Africa, that forces itself on the dry lips of the dying mother and her starving children. South Africa and the world do not want to admit that the peace they have been preaching has never left the books. We need to live in the reality we create, not in the one that brings more profit.

This is a harsh statement to make, and an ever harder idea to internalize. Why is South Africa becoming the home of Africa? Why are all African nationals immigrating to this country?

Simply because of the image it promotes. Because South Africa keeps on riding on this rainbow, this fantasy-like utopian dream, as if Mandela's South Africa has, in fact, ever taken tangible form. But the truth disappoints, and the Rugby match comes to an end.

When South Africans return to their homes, shackled by the deprivations that come with poverty, they finally admit that the noise of the vuvuzela is actually annoying. They finally let a comment escape, and state that indeed, there are simply too many Nigerians in town.

Let this be a new angle, the third side of the coin I have decided to propose: Xenophobia is a two-way thing. Foreign citizens flee their home countries hoping for a better life and better opportunities, because their home leadership has failed to consolidate their role in the contract with the people. Now, if you fail to take care of your child, and watch as your neglected offspring run to the neighbor's house, do you sincerely think that your neighbor will receive your own with open arms?

By no means should Xenophobia be justified, but, on the other hand, all states of those affected in the current attacks need to re-evaluate their position in ensuring national security and welfare. Each state to its own. South Africa is its own home, and must not be burdened with the future of the entire African continent. South African citizens should also be brave enough to admit to their own problems: to admit that their home is not as paradisaical as smiling Mandela's R200 seems.

Let it rain, let it pour, and the sun will gradually make its way through.

But for now, drop the facade, and admit that there was never a rainbow.

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