At the end of election week, I find it useful to reflect on what I have experienced and what my views are on the future of my country, South Africa. Hope and excitement for ultimate success of a thriving, vibrant economy and happy populace, certainly. Frustration at our lost opportunities, yes. Shame at what my fellow white countrymen say and do, often. Anger at my own lack of contribution and short-sightedness, sometimes. And many more emotions. Let me explain.
I find it difficult to understand how people vote every few years and then sit back, pointing fingers, revelling in their shared schadenfreude. Voting is a vital part of our civic duty, but not the only one. It’s part of the process, it isn’t THE process. You have to be involved before and after an election – that means that you know who our ministers are, that you engage constructively with solutions when things go wrong, that you don’t turn a blind eye, that you stick to your morals and values (of liberalism if you are me!) and when you fall short, as we all do at times, that you apologise and start again. To all who voted, stay the course – and try stay the course with an open mind. Try and understand how someone can vote for the FF+ or the ANC or whomever you didn’t vote for. And have a conversation. Have many conversations. Listen, learn. Enjoy the diversity – don’t be scared of it.
Thanks to the more than 60% of South Africans who voted. Some are saying – that’s terrible. That’s so low. Naturally everyone voting is great but I think 60% is a good representation. How many things in your life are above 60% – your goal weight, your marathon time, your ideal bank balance? And how many of us got above 60% for all our subjects at school? My point – the voting percentage is not terrible, nor great. But chat to those who didn’t vote and help increase the percentage – we have five years to do so. Let’s see the glass half (60+%) full, not half empty.
Parties who still campaign on race lines are, let’s just say, not smart. Nor are the poor journalist who write about the parties “courting white votes” via calming fears of land grabs and “courting black votes” by promoting BEE. As a white, Afrikaans male I support land redistribution as well as BEE – not to be nice, nor out of guilt or a sense of fairness (those, too) but mainly as they benefit me in the long run. Unless society is more equal, unless way more people have a chance at success, we are all doomed. So please parties, campaign on issues, not race. And don’t assume.
The view of “one man” (and yes, usually it is a man which is problematic in itself) saving us – like Ramaphosa – is ludicrous. Outsourcing our futures to an individual, no matter how great they may be, is not smart to my mind. Similarly, no one person or party destroys an institution, company or a country. We all do – either by our inaction or by our prejudice, scaremongering actions. A (servant) leader is there to inspire, guide, challenge, influence via their set of values, but we must all contribute. Yes, contribute. Not with an expectation of reward, but knowing that to whom much is given, much is expected and that by giving you receive a million times over.
I love and thrive on diversity – and get so much from differing views, people, experiences, places and organisations. However, I struggle hugely to truly hear views that I find abhorrent – such as those of Trump (and his Republican Party) and locally the Freedom Front Plus. However, I am working hard at it. As I understand those groups struggle to comprehend my support of abortions and the right to choose as well as my belief that majority black rule is not only vital, but good. As is majority women in positions of power. And banning guns. And making coding and poetry compulsory at school. Be part of my efforts as we work hard at being more open to understanding how very different views from our own make sense to others.
My fellow South Africans – and indeed, the world at large – unless we acknowledge our fears and prejudices, embrace diversity, work and compromise, together, for a sustainable future, we are doomed. I am continuing to give life its best shot and hope you will all join me for the ride. Election 2019 was another milestone in my own life. I was 20 in 1994 and delighted to be able to vote for the first time. Now, I am 45 (middle aged if I am lucky). Time marches on. It’s relentless. I plan to make sure I waste not a moment and suck all the marrow life – and my country SA – has to offer. Lekker. Khotso! Thanks sisters and brothers.