Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world
– Nelson Mandela, Inaugural Address, Pretoria 9 May 1994.
What’s Going On?
The beautiful country of South Africa; her citizens took to the streets to do what we do best – protest and make our discontent known and our voices heard. A national civil walk – throughout the country people of all race, age, social classes, and religions, marched together and chanted “Zuma Must Fall.” It was a prolific moment. This was what I have always thought South Africa to be – Strong. United.
Jacob Zuma, the most hated man in the country (who has the audacity to follow in Madiba’s footsteps as president) fired our Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, and reshuffled a couple other ministers in cabinet. Mind you, this isn’t the first time that he’s done this and for reasons unknown (other than his own personal gain as many saw these ministers as Zuma’s opponents). He gave insubstantial reasoning to justify these drastic changes.
Now, because of all this, South Africa’s already unstable economy has taken a huge economic blow; we’ve been downgraded to junk status. I didn’t know WTF that meant so I was on the news trawling for relevant information to understand what was happening. From what I understand, this means our country is not worth investing in. In a nutshell what this means is that our country is fucked from an economical standpoint – a downgrade of our credit rating. We’re too far deep in debt for any foreign investors to potentially want (or even would be viable) to lend us cash money. This means tax increases astronomically and, in a developing country where the cost of living is already on a tipping point, this could destroy us. Not just for the upper or middle class but for the vast majority of poor that we have, all the way to the bottom of the food chain.
All because we have a useless and selfish president!
So We Took To The Streets
Friday, the 7th of April 2017
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
― Margaret Mead
Protests are quite commonplace here and not many people get involved as they can become incredibly violent, but this is the first time (post-Apartheid) that so many white people have gotten involved. Now, let me make this clear to you. For the most part, the majority of white South Africans don’t protest. We don’t know struggle songs and those that fought against Apartheid are few and far between (as many have passed). The country was in uproar – an attempted national shutdown was put in play so we could stand against Zuma. Not just whites (just so you know), but the country as a whole.
But it wasn’t about politics (Ok it kinda was), it wasn’t about race (which always comes up) and it wasn’t even about the corrupt government (which it obviously is). This was about trying to get our president to step down. An estimated 60 000 people protested. By and large, it’s not a lot of people when we’re about 52 million, but it’s a start. Like I said to my boyfriend, all we’re doing is planting a seed. 2019 elections are coming up and we’ve got to try something. Awareness is everything.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
But Will It Change Anything?
Look, I’m going to just share with you my personal opinion and some points that were discussed during some heated debates that I got into.
Change? Probably not, to be honest, but that doesn’t mean we should sit back (bitching and moaning about the state of the country while we’re at it) and expect a revolution to just occur. Politics never sorts itself out; it takes years and the dedication of the citizens to make the country, and its government, take note that we are not happy! And it’s not just South Africa – Venezuelans were protesting against their government that same day too, how bow dah?
In my personal and humble opinion, we have no current leaders capable of carrying us to the next level; no Mandela’s, Gandhi’s nor Luther King’s. Leaders are born from strife and in recent years the world has been RELATIVELY peaceful. Maybe Mmusi Mamaine, the DA leader, is a viable option but he’s got his work cut out for him. It takes an innovative nation to create change, that’s what that Friday was about. How many South Africans living today can say that they have stood for something greater than themselves? How many of us around the world can say that?
“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
So no, maybe our wonderful president and his corrupt sidekicks aren’t going to do jack shit. However knowledge is power and knowing that we stood together brings a sense of unity to this country. A country that’s so unstable and full of discord amongst its people, so untrusting of their neighbours. When was the last time we could say that we were a rainbow nation?
OK, So I Got A Bit Angry
For someone who tries to be empathetic as their emotional norm, I got a bit touchy that Friday morning and vented via Facebook, which I admit, maybe I shouldn’t have done. Let me try and make my point a little clearer on that standpoint and you can agree or disagree to your heart’s content:
I know that I just iterated that awareness is key. Now I’m not backtracking or trying to be contradictory, I just think that there is a certain way of doing things.
Selfies, by their definition, are photographs of oneself which are unnecessary. Now, I understand, that maybe people were trying to share exposure via social media but also consider the vanity of that aspect. To try and aestheticise the action of protest… well, it blew me away. Again, a protest, by its very meaning, indicates a strong disapproval of something. By taking to the streets on the 7th of April, you weren’t representing yourself; you weren’t “checking in” – you were representing people from all over the world who were standing up for a variety of humanitarian causes: Americans with the Dakota Pipeline, Black Lives Matter and Anti-Trump protests, among others. You were walking with the Africans in Burundi and Ethiopia, fighting the good fight with their own political unrest. You stood with thousands upon thousands of Polish women uniting against Poland’s abortion ban. This isn’t history – it’s our present. And your selfie made the fight about you and detracted from the cause.
People die in protests, people are fired upon with rubber bullets, sent running away from tear gas, physically putting their lives on the line because they so strongly believe in what they’re taking to the streets for. And you took a selfie… I don’t know if I’m making it clear enough though, but I don’t know how else to word it. In my view, some South Africans were simply taken by the novelty of the idea.
So What Now?
Now we talk! And do what we can to initiate change; moving people’s indifference to subtle and emotive opinion. I realise that this is quite a controversial topic and you may or may not agree with me, but please bear in mind that this is my opinion (so don’t bite my head off). Please leave a comment and let’s chat 🙂 All debates are good ones!
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
― Dr. Seuss