I’ve come across you several times on the interwebs. You like to brand yourself as the ultimate thinking person and a visionary. The amount of energy you invest in foretelling South Africa’s doom is simply astounding. You gleefully link every article or blog post that decries corruption, lawlessness and mayhem. You rant endlessly about the ANC Youth League, about Zimbabwe and about crime. Your Caps Lock key is permanently in. Your life is going to be so much better in Australia, you roar. It may be easy for you to cynically predict our downfall, then watch things fall apart, but it’s laziness on your part. You’re far more comfortable breaking down than building up. It requires less effort, doesn’t it. To actually get up and try to make a difference is just too much effort. It’s too … plebeian. It is far more intellectually gratifying for you to shoot everyone down from the comfort and safety of your ivory tower. Well, I have news for you, buddy. South Africa is going places.
What about you? You’re a rational, logical and responsible person. You work hard, you pay tax and you bring your children up right. Everyone acknowledges how smart you. You get dinner invitations all the time. Poverty, violent crime, corruption, the scourge of HIV/Aids — you have all the answers. You know what’s best for everyone. So it is utterly unthinkable that there’s someone out there who deigns to oppose your views. Your worldview is the correct one, don’t they know? Anyone who disagrees is immediately reduced to a puerile level of intellect. You tsk-tsk at their childishness. How could anyone be so stupid, so naive? And you try your best to enlighten your foolish neighbours. You use small words and short sentences, so they’ll be able to understand. But the truth is, people who disagree with you threaten the very core of your existence. The truth is, you’ve been born and raised into a life of privilege and comfort. You didn’t ask for it, but it happened and that’s fine with you.
When Julius Malema talks about nationalising the mines, when Gugile Nkwinti talks about nationalising the land, this is not only a threat to constitutional values of property ownership, it is a threat to your way of life. The reason why these men can talk like this, the underlying causes of all of this don’t matter to you. So it is far easier to imagine that this is just Africa being Africa. I have news for you too. South Africa is going to succeed. Despite the pessimists, despite the naysayers and despite the racists among us.
We live in a difficult time. Our country is undergoing changes that seek to redress and reorder the balance of power in society. It isn’t an easy task by any measure, and the transition is upsetting a lot of people. The fact that those who are supposed to be the guardians of that transition — our government — display worrying traits of corruption and cronyism only makes things worse.
Thank God for people like David Gemmell, who choose to praise the things that are right about South Africa. People like him are everywhere. It is so easy to be pessimistic, but it is the eternal optimists among us who will save this country.
Look at all the good things that have happened over the last 20 years. This country was on the brink of civil war 17 years ago. But we’re about to host the most splendid event the world has to offer. There was no black middle class to speak of in 1994. Today, the euphemistically named black diamonds are numbered in the millions. South Africa’s economy continues to grow, despite the level of unemployment. What has been achieved so far is nothing short of miraculous. That miracle can and will continue.
Success isn’t a zero-sum game. My gain isn’t your loss. The isn’t a finite amount of achievement available. South Africa belongs to all of us. A guaranteed way to for all to succeed is for South Africa to succeed.
Take my word, South Africa will succeed.
By Sipho Hlongwane