As a born free, it's a struggle in my generation to find passion and depths of understanding of our democracy, the struggles, the oppression, the fights, the gift that is the present... let alone the importance of nurturing and maintaining our democracy, that so many have fought for and devoted their lives too.
When I woke up on the morning of Madiba's death, it felt as though I heard news that a family member had died. I'm a 23 year old, woman of colour, born in the month of our first democratic vote —I was never oppressed. It is me who the freedom fighters fought for and for whom they dedicated their entire lives for the life of equality and freedom that I posses.
"Whatever my wishes might be, I cannot bind future generations to remember me in the particular way I would like" _Nelson Mandela.
The thing about Madiba's death was that —yes we had time to prepare for it to happen, but the memoirs and realization of his life's purpose had an unmeasurable magnitude— not only on the world, but for us, his people...its not easy to prepare for that kind of loss.
I knew in my heart and mind that this unshakable loss, was about to have a game-changer impact on South Africans.
We remembered the struggle, almost in a forced manner and much needed so to say, documentaries aired on all our local television channels, the discussions on the radio, the research that we did to learn more, the world mourning, the replaying of the speeches, the in-your-face remember what it is this country has been through and realize that it is important to maintain what it is our parents fought for. Madiba's life was a testament to the struggle.
I saw immediate changes of attitudes from people around me, about a month prior to this one of my close friends (same age as me) brushed off my concerning attitude towards her that she did not register to vote. I literally pleaded with her that it is of utmost importance that she did and that brushing it off has such a huge impact on most things around her. This one thing voting, is what we fought for... to have a say. She didn't budge much, she just "wasn't phased" by voting.
I think that alone was a brilliant example of how mindsets were of "non-concerned" youth were prior to the death of Madiba. After he died she indeed had a change of attitude, why? She remembered and learnt the importance all over again.
I'd like to term my political knowledge as somewhat "politically-challenged" because I do not know everything there is to know and I may be ignorant to a number of factors that make up our democratic government. One thing is for sure though: I know that the current attitude of our once humbled ANC, is no longer true to their it's initial visions... I'll even dare to go as far saying that they have disappointed their people.
Yes sure, what do I know? I am naive because I am young, right? I should listen to the opinions of the older generations because they lived Apartheid, right? They must be right, right?
I recently had a heated discussion with a 30-something (correctly termed: previously disadvantaged) friend of mine, and I noticed a huge difference between mindset of the "scorned" and the "free'd".
Unlike me, he lived during the struggle and remembered the challenges his parents faced and as much as he tried to remain reasonable, he could not consciously help but steer towards a grudge against "the white man" and understandably so.
The discussion started with me asking what he thinks of Agang and Mamphela Ramphele, he told me that he didn't really know who they are and wasn't phased much by them. He also stressed the fact that black and coloured people deserved BEE because of the disadvantages his parents experienced, he was also adamant that white people need to be accountable for the damages they caused, at this point i realized the difference between the scorned and the free.
I understand the damage that was done but I explained to him that we cannot make an entire racial group suffer because of the mistakes of a regime, the regime should be punished but there were white people who opposed the struggle too. He seemed to have woken up by that way of thinking and I realized how deep-set this grudge was that it almost indoctrinated all reason for him.
“If the ANC does to you what the Apartheid government did to you, then you must do to the ANC what you did to the Apartheid government.”
~ Nelson Mandela, Cosatu Conference, 1993
I then went on to explain to him in further detail who Ramphele is and that I was particularly fascinated by her, I like what she stands for and she isn't just any black woman put into power based on her skin colour or rather BEE (okay, that's a joke, don't choke)... but she seemed to be a woman of abundant knowledge and experience, she was my perfect presidential woman.
For a while I have been discussing with friends, family and well pretty much anyone who is willing to lend an ear to my opinions on politics and about what it would take for South Africa to break free from the ANC pitfall. They always seemed to be a bit puzzled each time I answered that the only way our South Africa would trust in change is to have a black female president.
Why black, why female, why do I say this you may ask yourself... Yes I claim to be non-racist and colour-blind, but I have thought long and hard about this answer.
My ideology (speaking as a born free) is that like South Africa needed to be manged carefully when the transition from Apartheid to a being free from racial segregation, Madiba understood that white people also needed to feel safe throughout this change. Safe in that they would not have been attacked or mass murdered as a result of revenge, and that by giving them a share of power would make them feel safe.
The way I see it, we are at that same crossing once again, we want to complete the transition over to not only an absolute democratic justice system, but an absolute democratic mindset free of all forms of racial segregation whether it be black domination or white domination.. This transition for the vast majority of South Africans is as closely sensitive as it was 23 years ago and we need to treat it with the same gentleness.
Black South Africans (generally speaking about the vast majority of voters and ANC supporters), need to feel safe and trusting, in fact we all need to feel trusting of our government which for the most part we currently are do not feel. It may appear to be an ignorant or crude thing to say, but like the white people of the apartheid regime needed to feel safe in the walk to equality and hold a share of power, I think many Black South Africans fear this change too (rightfully so) but there also needs to be a feeling of safety.
During apartheid we needed a strong leader... pyhsically strong with the strong qualities of leadership, a fighter and a father figure... which we found in Madiba. I feel that in the age we are in at the moment and as a nation who has had to do a lot of healing from the trauma of Apartheid, what we need is a mother figure. Our country needs nurturing, kindness and a guidance which I believe Ramphele is capable of. Our nation has scars yes, even from most recent political and economical mistakes, but right now we need someone we can trust to heal the wounds, hold our hand and guide us and treat the sores.
Helen Zille (in my humble opinion, it's my blog so it's my opinion) has a great commitment to our cause— A JUST democratic system, I just don't think the nation is ready and trusting of giving the power to a "white" presidential candidate (as revolutionary as that would be for us). She has a great background and I like the journalistic zest about her, although sometimes I too get annoyed with the ranting and moaning about crap, but what remains is that years on and she is still an activist for a free South Africa and with that she understands the community/social dynamics of this so much so that she was smart enough to hand her presidential seat to Ramphele.
Why you may ask?
Well there could be 101 reasons why, we can assume that Agang's budget was failing, perhaps Helen helped save Ramphele's career who knows?
Honestly, I don't CARE.
What I do see is an opportunity for our youth's future to be corrected from corruption, distorted ideologies, holding onto grudges of the past and taking from Peter to Paul to rectify a highly unmeasurable imbalance of opportunity (BEE).
Going back to my conversation with my friend I mentioned to him that I found myself in a bit of a fix where I was considering changing my vote from the DA to Agang, because I believed in Ramphele's ideas that she had for this country. My vote for the DA would be because in comparison to any other party they matched enough of the criteria for the change we needed and were the closest to giving the ANC a ride for their money (trusting that the money is legit, lol) my friend agreed with me on the following:
As great as Agang was beginning to sound and as desperate as I was excited to have another political party on board that matched my criteria for a president (i.e strong education, business background, sufficient respect accrued in the community: being a DR, previous apartheid activist, ex-vice chancellor of UCT) ... ah as much as I wanted to give this woman my vote, the bigger picture or realization was that it would take a good couple of years for her to gain the amount of followers the DA has and the DA just has a bigger fighting chance than Agang. The focus I had (and many others) was getting the DA in power to allow other South African political parties to all stand an equal fighting chance rather than just being dominated by the ANC.
Sadly at this point I realized, I had to give my push to the DA and let go of Ramphele.
The idea behind our democracy was not just freedom for the oppressed but freedom for the oppressor too, freedom of the ideology of apartheid. I know the implications of the regime and "white supremacy" had devastating effects on many such as lack of proper education, restraints on human rights, loss of many lives and loss of dignity. It's hard, our nation was like a brutally physically and emotionally abused child and correcting that child's mentality and teaching it right from wrong thereafter is massively challenging...
Teaching this child that trying to correct the perpetrators actions by doing unto them what they have done unto you and that granting an advantage at the cost of a disadvantage to others to rectify a previous problem —does not make the new method any better than the old, we're doing it in reverse (again BEE). We need to start fresh and the only way to let go is to forgive. Forgive for the greater good, forgive for your child's future and do not allow it to be okay for your child to obtain advantages at the cost of another child's disadvantage... the people (kids) benefiting from this ideology are people who haven't even been a part of the struggle.
I am proud to say I that I think our nation has woken up to this realization and I am even happier that Mamphele is now the DA's presidential candidate.
I imagine that this must be what "ubuntu" feels like when we realize we have to work towards the greater good, together. The apartheid generation needs to find it in themselves to forgive and move forward, start fresh. The Born-frees need to step up and educate themselves about our countries political history and be an active part of the change, it is after-all the now that will determine OUR futures.
This is my generations struggle and I feel like we are about to break free, it kinda makes me want to say... Amandla, Awethu.