I am deeply struck by the question “What does our country need most now, and how may I play a part in it?” This last month has seen us mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela, and celebrating his magnificent life. We have been inundated by documentaries, radio talk shows and Anant Singh’s movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom providing new revelations to some of us on the great man’s sacrifice. Fresh conversations are bubbling about the values our nation should espouse and how to continue to strive for the ideals that Nelson Mandela stood for.
In Adam Kahane’s book Power and Love, he states that (and I paraphrase) in order for a group to display collective intelligence, participants need a container where there is access to information and composition of diversity. This is where the magic of sustainable social change happens. How do we create this strong container we so desperately need? Our country already has a wealth of diversity; we now need to work on access to information (education & no secrecy bill) and resources (shared). We first need to realize that we all need each other.
Who do I vote for that will strive to intentionally create this strong container? Which party or collective of citizens will be consultative, act on corruption and will tirelessly deliver on topics that matter to our people: education, food security, integrated public transport, poverty alleviation, etc.
This year marks 20 years of our democracy. I am proud to have friends from all walks of life – across nations, cultures, races and the socio-economic spectrum. I am however of the generation that caught the end of apartheid, so my joy of progress has an undertone of sadness, and even bitterness. Partially due to the messaging still held by the generation that precedes me; they often do not understand my openness to diverse friendships and romantic relationships. Part of my bitterness is also due to the awareness of my inadequacies around my white friends who have not only inherited financially and materially, but also a sense of adventure, sportsmanship and possibility. I find that many of my black friends are so caught up in attaining financial security that we are not prioritizing a purpose-driven life. A life that speaks to your calling seems a luxury.
I long for a society where my prejudice is obsolete and I can bask in the beauty of our diversity and shared humanity without further contemplation. Where access to resources is not the limiting factor to achieving your full potential. Where we trust that our elected leaders will serve the well being of our entire nation, not be caught up in self-interest. I long for the day that we as South Africans are proudly African and not yearn to be anything else, but lovingly embrace our brothers and sisters across the continent as equals. And finally, the day that Africa is an equal social and economic player in the world; no longer inferior but not necessarily superior. We’re all simply humans living and sharing justly and appreciatively.