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Is It Possible To Selflessly Campaign For Change?

I can imagine that the ruling party is in a state of mild panic over these upcoming elections. Though, of course, they would put up a brave face. Their booboo’s are many and highly amplified by the media. Not to mention the infighting that has played out in the public arena. It is obvious that unity within the ruling party is experiencing very bad weather. This opens the door to all sorts of opportunism as we have seen.

Maintaining the status quo and maintaining the struggle of the dispossessed at the same time was never going to work. We are not saints. We are human, with painful and urgent human issues. The redress of these issues becomes more urgent with each passing day. The clamour of discontent is ringing throughout the land.

It is this clamour I want to talk about. When asked by someone I have much respect for, how I see our politic, I replied that the struggle needs to stop being partisan. That we need a vehicle through which black issues are addressed, regardless of political affiliations. That these political loyalties have us fighting each other over issues we should be agreeing on, instead of focusing on the goal that is our emancipation. Soon the window to focus on these issues will be closed. Pushing race-based reforms is frowned upon. Us, the dispossessed, have only been allowed to so far, so we could catch up, since we were dispossessed along racial lines. Gathering by the impatience with us getting on with it (rhetoric, they say), I would say this grace period is almost up, and our issues are still, largely, not addressed. This leads to the second point I made to him. That the infighting and power mongering leads to a lot of ego driven, unethical and devoid-of-vision decision making – making us vulnerable to all sorts of ridicule. That the danger is then that we cheapen the struggle, setting fertile grounds for neocolonialism. Because our people start to doubt our ability to lead.
That is why Marikana was the mother of all wake up calls, or should have been.
The conditions that brought about Marikana are what we should be in a mild state of panic about.

Maybe in all the noise, as the foundations of our beliefs tremor under our feet, we fail to see the opportunity for redress. Because we have the power to the means to change our circumstance. It is the willpower that is the problem, and from some, the sincerity of intention. That there would be resistance to change from those who wanted to continue benefiting from colonialism, should have been apparent from the beginning, and therefore come as no shock. We have learned from countries around us.

We live in such a highly charged society, a wounded society always expectant of shock and awe. A reactionary society, always expecting the negative. We have begun to doubt our ability to lead. After 19 years we are disappointed in ourselves. So we see a pointlessness to constructive engagement, that is why the impotent clamour of discontent. That is why this clamour has violent undertones from those most oppressed by poverty.

Maintaining the status quo and maintaining the struggle of the dispossessed at the same time was never going to work. But us trying, showed that we had learned something from those around us, as the last country to gain colonial independence on the continent. South Africa is still the richest country on the continent, though it has been at a cost. What it should mean is that we have had 19 years of power to shape a vision for economic freedom. We might need a few more years to polish that vision because “a house divided cannot stand”. Yes, 19 years is far, far from enough a time to undo the madness of the past 3 centuries, but, it should have been nearly enough time to plan how to.

The call for unity has to ring throughout the land. The call for economic freedom has been made. It cannot continue to be that being the face of poverty is our naturalized state. It cannot continue to be that we bear children only to deliver them into the ground. If it does, we will only have ourselves to blame. The window for redress stands beckoning. The time, it seems, is now. The burden of memory should be embraced during these tumultuous shifts in consciousness. To be burdened with centuries of the memory of our pain is to know, see, the vision. It is possible to reclaim our memory. Therefore, it is possible to selflessly campaign for change. We can be one again. We can.
Article first published by Sowetan, 23 May, 2013


About Simphiwe Dana

Musician, Writer, Activist, Mom


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