Yes, I’m staying,
here right where we are, in South Africa.
Oh, Cry this beloved country, a world in one country,
So astoundingly beautiful and diverse in landscape and peoples.
So torn and tormented with an eccentric past, looted present and rattled future.
simply because we’re not going anywhere else and nor do we want to. Despite the recent evil that unleashed itself with volcanic destruction across two of our provinces, ripple-affecting the entire country. And before that, when, after living abroad for 20 years, we chose to come back to headlines flaunting hourly murders, extortionate crime and puffed-up politics depicting anything but a land of milk and honey.
while struggling to make sense of these past few weeks as parts of Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng disappeared under a pile of smoldering debris, fanned by radicals urged on openly by their leaders to destroy and take in allegiance to an ex-president who looted this country of billions. There are murmurs of a failed coup…
even though we’re frustrated by the ongoing taxi war and lack of any public transport in Cape Town and elsewhere causing millions of unpaid manhours exacerbating the ominous state stats of 1 in 3 unemployed, and youth unemployment or unemployable figure of 70 percent. Add blatant government corruption, bankrupt municipalities and a massive divide between the haves and have not’s.
because here’s the thing: Every country has its own exceptional insanity. It seems that some South Africans perceive that ours is the only country facing the trauma of transition, albeit a long one and more hectic than most. And perhaps they have reason to. We were so hopeful at the miracle birth of our democracy in 1994. With a world-class constitution and Mandela at the helm, the change was contagious and South Africans of every colour and creed were ready and willing to rebuild a rainbow nation together. 27 years on, and the rainbow seems to have faded. For some rebuilding what is continuously broken down, can be disheartening and has become too much. GATVOL is a real thing, go find it in the Collins dictionary. I can understand and have no judgment.
We each have to find our personal peace and if it’s not possible for you to find it here, then do what you have to. If you can. But please, for those who already live elsewhere, I ask with all due respect, don’t gloat in your “I’m so blessed to be out of South Africa” and “Thank God we got out of there” and other harsher statements that may be relevant to you but don’t need a public audience. If you were privileged and “blessed” enough to have the necessary resources to leave, that’s great as we all know repatriating comes at great cost (and not only financial). But, please, be mindful that there are people who may want and need to leave but simply don’t have access to those types of resources and that doesn’t mean they are not blessed. And many that were hoping to leave shortly find themselves surrounded by a pile of ashes, their hopes of rebuilding a life elsewhere gone up in a cloud of smoke. Their choices choked.
If you’ve left or are in the process of emigrating, I wish you all the best and sincerely hope you can find your peace and live peacefully. You gotta do what you gotta do, but please be mindful that the world is in a wobble, not just our end of Africa. Life can be hard wherever…
South Africa’s future may be hanging in limbo. Our socio-political problems are raw and angry, but the amount of goodwill that abounds between the everyday, ordinary Mzanzi people is exquisite as was so beautifully demonstrated recently. The most unlikely of people pulled together to protect each other, properties, communities, commodities and livelihoods.
The best of humanity is alive and well and living right here, amongst us and is more than enough to keep our hope alive. I’m optimistic enough to think there is still time to find amicable solutions and long-term answers to peaceful cohabitation. Together. There is a disproportionate amount of goodwill around and there are so many people and organisations doing beautifully good things quietly and without fanfare. No audience necessary, but sadly evil shouts louder and gets the voice.
because I want to invest time and energy into this nation. I want to build bridges, streets, and even just a small dusty path between my traditionally fragmented people. We’ve seen what’s possible when the stakes are high. These acts of selflessness were not only for the esoteric disaster averters. We saw the heart of the majority of South Africans who just want to live in peace with their families, be allowed to work and enjoy the beauty of this land.
Politicians do not hold the answers. My neighbor and I do. I’m not naive enough to think that this is an easy or flippant task. I can’t do everything but I can do something and these things take time. I’ve got time. I can start small by actively seeking out my neighbor, be they next door or the next community. Be they black or white, geek or gay, young or old – whoever. I can listen with intent, wanting to learn, for we all have stories that we live out of and need to tell. I can rethink my assumptions, reframe my paradigms, revisit my values and extend a hand to my traditional ‘them’.
I can’t help my white privilege but I can, by the grace of God, use it responsibly and I intend to.
Only time will tell how this all unfolds…but for now, there’s no place I’d rather be than right here.
At home, in South Africa.
Nkosi sikelel’ Afrika
Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land