What has captures me the most about living in a new democracy is the fact that we are living completely different times; the struggle has continued from being what it was to one that is almost too complicated to fight. Although we are living in a completely different time, the effects of apartheid linger over us.
The other day I was speaking to a friend of mine about clashes between people and when you have a misunderstanding with someone of the opposite race, it’s very easy to pull the race card, ‘It’s weird how race, class, power and money all become so confused. So a clash of any sort gets pulled down to race, even when a lot of the time it’s not about that at all.’ He said, ‘us South Africans – we always come back to it. It’s like going home.’
I took the time out to talk to two young South African individuals about issues that surround us in our democracy.
Thishiwe Ziqhubu is a 24 year old scriptwriter, currently writing for a children’s programme and specialises in writing in isiZulu.
Ipeleng Morake is an entrepreneur running his own graphic design company, Morake Designs; he is also an alternative music deejay.
Vuyo: Do you vote? Why?
Ipeleng: Yes, I vote so that the white man doesn’t get another chance.
Thishiwe: I haven’t voted yet – and it has nothing to do with that I genuinely feel there is no-one that represents what I personally stand for and would like see happen in our country. I haven’t voted because the registration process always seems like too much trouble and I am a fan of easy, efficient processes like cell phone banking, pull-on nappies, pre-packed sandwiches and the likes. So on registration day I get lazy because my reasoning is these decisions are pre-made and have little to do with what the people want.
V: Would you say that we have a real choice when it comes to who leads us?
I: It’s a tricky one, because politics work in groups. Personally, I’m not a fan of a particular party, as long as it’s not white and there’s a possibility of making money and being successful. As a darkie, I think, that’s the only choice you have.
T: No. There are too many egos, dollars, deals and things at stake for that to be a reality. That’s the reality of a capitalist system. As much as we’d love to believe in a free and fair society – the world is not that, it’s a machine run by an operator who will not suddenly go to auto function or let the hopeful masses take over.
The freedom charter is an outline of what our parents struggled for, which seems like a clearer struggle than what we are faced with today as the youth, most of us have no idea whether we are coming or going and I have seen so many of peers losing a sense of identity and doing or saying the most random things. Globalisation means one of two things: we become global citizens and blend in with the rest of the world and embrace a new diverse culture or we completely lose sight of we are, therefore drowning in causeless society. One of the most powerful statements to come out of the freedom charter was: ‘The People Shall Govern!’
V: What is your personal opinion on the transition that South Africa has undergone since the years of Apartheid?
I: It’s an interesting one. The damage was done by that [apartheid] system, which is why we think our government is a joke at times. Basically uneducated grown men would be better with a bit of training.
About the bigger picture no now that they are in power, they seem to forget that they have a country,
mindsets and social structures to fix. Most blacks haven’t been taught how to deal with power, they fell into to power. So, it’s easy to mess it up.
T: I have two opinions about this. Firstly, on an ‘optimist’ level – as they say we should be — it’s cool that we don’t have to be where our forefathers were, it is a right not a luxury. Secondly, I can’t help the strong feeling I have that we are moving in the wrong direction – away from where we should be headed. Post-apartheid should have kicked off with land being returned to its rightful owners. Freedom is not having a townhouse on the fifth floor and two “Beamers” parked in the underground bay. Without land, we’re nothing. That’s why Chris Hani was killed, because he refused to shut up about the land issue when the Mandela’s were so ready to accept this illusion of change.
V: Who do you think is the biggest asshole in leadership and why? (You can answer this anonymously)
I: Well, the biggest asshole is the untrained black man, who abuses power in a dumb manner. There are various, for instance most people will say Malema; but we need a loud mouth only with a bit of censoring from advisors, he could be a solution in some aspects.
(It doesn’t have to be anonymous)
T: The entire capitalist system.
V: If you were to create a perfect government, what would you change about the current system of South African government?
I: The perfect government would be one, which allows ideas from the public and a government which is willing to sacrifice a bit of their pay check to fix the less fortunate generation and include the educated youth, who can come up with working strategies for the country and well being of most of us.
T: “People first” wouldn’t just be a slogan. The committees and forums and commissions of enquiry aren’t going to solve human problems on a human level. Leadership needs to be taken away from the parliament halls and boardrooms and brought in face-to-face with the people’s needs. How do we expect to free a nation by RDP and child grants solely? We need to put the so-called previously disadvantaged in a position where they are able to create better futures for themselves and do not rely on handouts.
V: At your own personal capacity, would you say it is possible to make a change in your country and how would you achieve this?
I: Yes it is, if one just applies their free time to teaching, the youth and hopefully adults about how a nation works, instead of just throwing your coins at a problem.
T: Yes, I would become president but not on an official level. I would simply become servant to the people and their needs; creating a non-political space that provides the mental, spiritual and psychological resources that’ll set things in motion. This presidential campaign of mine still needs a lot of brainstorming though. The plan is to get rich first, a poor man helping a poor man is just sad and I’m tired of it.
The thing about being a human being is that you must assume some sort of identity; you either go right or left. Some of the biggest questions/debates I have encountered since I was a child have been about racism, politics and sexuality.
How informed are the decisions we make and what kind of role do they play in advancing our society? If the SABC is cutting down its budget then what other means are available to promote a purely South African culture? What contribution do we make to the news headlines when Rihanna is on the front page?
If each and every is responsible for the change in our country; then surely we all hold our own opinions in what change means and maybe governance may actually lie in ourselves rather than authority. It is the masses who decide to strike and put a hold on service delivery.
A lot of power certainly lies in ordinary everyday people; the working class makes this country function. Steve Biko says that we are seemingly more comfortable being spectators in a battle that we should be fighting and actively participating in. As, South Africans (especially the youth), we don’t even seem to know what it is that we are fighting. A few decades ago, it was apartheid and today there are diseases, poverty, unemployment, inequality, lack of service delivery, price hikes, etc. and the struggle continues but what is this struggle? What are we fighting against? Are we fighting at all?
To be continued…