Where are your leaders South Africa?

2016-05-18 20:38

It is Easter weekend in 1993 South Africa and Chris Hani, a much and respected anti-Apartheid activist is assassinated. And the mood in the country changes fast. How could they kill Comrade Hani at a time when black people who had suffered brutality in the hands of white people are being asked by their leaders to forgive and work with white people to build a new South Africa?

Such a killing almost sent South Africa into a full blown civil war. People were understandably angry took to the streets to demonstrate their anger. Mandela, Tutu, and others worked tirelessly to calm the situation. Two weeks after his release from prison Mandela had had travel to KwaZulu Natal  in a bid to end violence in the province that had claimed many lives.

This is because in times of crisis, the nation looks to its leaders to lead. That is why Mandela went on television to address the nation in 1993 after the murder of Crhis Hani. South Africans were angry and they are angry today.

This time it is not directed at the assassination of Chris Hani but at growing dissatisfaction with how institutions respond or do not respond to citizens' expectations. And unfortunately Mandela is resting at his ancestral  grounds in Qunu with Tutu having to attend to his health. Kathrada speaks to deaf ears and our President has become part of the problem.

Everyday there are news of violent protests like it was in the 1980s except this time the violence is not being unleashed by apartheid security forces against an unarmed and defenceless people including children. This time it is public property being burnt by citizens venting their anger. Hard to understand for many but the nation is wounded and needs healing.

When there is such an "air" of anger and hopelessness for those who have no jobs and are unemployable, the nation turns to its leaders to provide leadership and offer hope of a better tomorrow. But those who occupy leadership positions today fail to inspire a sense of hope. Instead, depressing headlines dominate public discourse and leaders nowhere to be found.

When the leaders of the anti-apartheid movement were exiled or imprisoned, churches,  other organisations such as educational institutions took it upon themselves to provide leadership. Women, young people, men, and even children demanded an end to Apartheid because it was not the kind of South Africa they wanted to live in. They wanted a land where children were educated, youth had access to knowledge they could use to build the country, and men and women, black and white and whatever is in between worked together to build the country.

They mobilised. Each one did what they could to help wherever they could help. No matter how much brutality the apartheid regime unleashed upon black bodies, they never lost hope of a better tomorrow. Even when kids as young as 11 were massacred by apartheid security forces, there was always hope that one day their dream South Africa would be a reality. Gogo remarked that even if she did not live long enough to see it, her offsprings would one day live in a South Africa alive with all sorts of possibilities. Filled with hope even as police tortured her and her comrades.

Clearly something has gone horribly wrong with that vision if black people can set alight buildings that serve or are meant to serve them. These are cries for a better South Africa and it doesn't look like those who are expected to demonstrate leadership are listening to those cries. And so the wounded nation bleeds in the absence of leaders. South Africa only has pretenders.

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