Weeping for the end of innocence

2017-02-10 08:33

SONA 2017 was a scene out of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. And it ended the same way. With the death of innocence and with an island in tatters.

For anyone who hasn’t read the iconic novel, it tells the story if a group of young boys who get stranded on an island without the supervision of any adults. Although they initially try and put social structures in place and to behave as the adult world would expect them to, events rapidly unfold resulting in devastation and in chaos. Scenes of mob violence, hysteria and bedlam result in the tragic death of some of the boys and in the obliteration of social norms, of freedom and innocence. All this illustrates Golding’s view that “Man is attracted to evil like a bee is attracted to honey.”

This morning, the day after South Africa’s State of the Nation Address 2017, I feel like one of those boys. Because I too cheered. And I too laughed. And I too applauded. I tweeted and jeered. All while our island and everything that we cherish and everything that hold dear went up in smoke. Or pepper spray.

The build up to this year’s SONA should have given us fair warning of what was to come. Hundreds of security personnel, a city militarized and on lockdown stood in sharp contrast to the SONA of Nelson Mandela’s years where children danced in the street and where hope and positivity lined the boulevards. It was by no means a perfect time with a long journey still to be traveled. But we believed in the good of our leaders and believed that they wanted what we did. A fully transformed South Africa for all to enjoy.

SONA 2017 was a tipping point. It signified the sounding of a bell. South Africans are now in the ring. The proverbial boxing gloves have come off and the fight is already bloody. We are cursed with a leader who will fight to the death. Not only of his own, but also the death of the people he is meant to represent. And we are cursed with him having a dishonest support team who mop his brow and whisper words of encouragement and who urge him to continue. When they know full well that they should do the opposite.

President Jacob Zuma is a disgrace to his party. His party is a disgrace to their people. And if there was any hope left for this presidency and for the ANC, last night settled it.

And that was before he addressed the nation.

If the behavior was disturbing, his speech was mortifying. Talk of “Radical Economic Transformation,” of Government interference in what is an already fragile economy, makes it palpable that his job here is not done. He doesn’t intend leaving until there is nothing left for anyone to govern. He has made it clear that he anticipates looting whatever is left. All in the name of equality. And of transformation.

Lord of The Flies concludes with the boys being saved and with an island burning. The adults arrive and along with them, we turn to face the paradise that was. We stare at the loss with horror and hopelessness. We wonder what will happen to the boys and if anything will ever improve. Our hearts break because it all could have been so different.

Friday morning, the day after SONA 2017 and one has to wonder who will be South Africa’s grown ups. Will the ANC ever return to a place of integrity or will be up to the EFF or the DA to step forward at this time of crises. The island is on fire. “And in the middle of them, with filthy body, matted hair and unwiped nose, Ralph wept for the end of innocence, for darkness in man’s heart and the fall through the air of a true wise friend called Piggy.”

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