Most of the time they don’t, and it appears nothing in this regard is likely to change for the near future. But as people we also need to bear responsibility for our own failure to be responsible citizens in a democracy – to put shoulder to the wheel to make our country work - and much of the current sad state of affairs is not only due to Government neglect of priorities, but also to a national apathy and/or lack of caring and our pathetic incompetencies for which we must all share portion of the blame.
IT IS so that we have a huge income disparity in our country between rich and poor. We also have a largely second-rate system of education; critically high unemployment rate and a great deal of poverty and dearth of employment opportunities. One could legitimately claim that all is not well with either our government or our democracy. But a national psyche of hopelessness and helplessness and a culture of begging and handouts will never solve our problems. It constantly astounds me as to how quickly we changed from a militant society, intent on overturning the system of apartheid by any means necessary to determine our own future and forge our own national identity and pride, to a morally spineless nation, weak and feeble and unable to fend for itself.
Everything at the moment points not only to a Government that has lost the plot, but also to a nation without compass and spiritual strength, unable to make a difference in our own lives and communities, even in our most immediate surroundings.
One can be financially poor but nevertheless have pride. But when there is poverty of spirit and character too, then there is little hope. And this is what is more debilitating to our national consciousness than lack of material means.
And there are many signs pointing to this national deterioration. Some of the recent reports in the media about the sad state of neglect in schools throughout the country is an example in point. And it astounds me that parents and community leaders and teachers don’t take matters into their own hands to improve the situation, even if it means picking up tools or a paintbrush to do it themselves. If a school building or hostel is run down, toilets blocked, windows broken, and desks and chairs in a similar rate of disrepair, why is there no initiative to put things right for the sake of the children? And then to teach them to be responsible for their own surroundings and environment. Perhaps the school or the hostel isn’t state of the art in terms of modernity, but it can nevertheless surely be kept clean and hygienic and with equipment and facilities in working order. Are we going to always complain that the Ministry of Works is supposed to fix this or that, while things fall apart? If the Nurses Home has cleaners who aren’t doing a job, then surely nurses themselves, a profession known for adherence to cleanliness and hygiene, will ensure things are put right. Who’s to blame for a state of filth around a facility such as this, but the nurses themselves? For who can complain about living in such a filthy environment if they can’t be bothered to clean up for themselves? What does that say about members of this profession if they are prepared to submissively live in such conditions? What would be the result if we all claim we cannot fix our houses or clean our yards or pay our water bills if we are able to do so – whether we live in a shack or a mansion – except total societal collapse?
It is time for us to develop a more entrepreneurial spirit in the more general sense, a capacity to help ourselves and those around us without constantly calling on Government or others to assist. If a school is battling financially, then it is time for parents to get galvanised into action; if hostel buildings and facilities are destroyed, then it is time for us to teach our children to look after these facilities for generations to come; if the garbage piles up in the streets then a community can spring into action to keep their streets clean. These are things we can do, without much money, but with a resolve to make life better for those around us and to teach our children that the ‘fruits of independence’ is a mythical concept that merely gives us the chance to prove we are in fact capable of our own self-determination?
We thought we had been liberated, but we are not. Yet. Colonial rule was one thing. This is quite another. Unless we lose the excuses, we will remain slaves to our own incompetencies.
We need to build up our strength of character, our own competencies on various personal levels, and we need to learn not to make excuses for ourselves but take our lives into our own hands. An innovative spirit will make us more employable and will make our society work more efficiently. Our forebears did the most amazing things with scant material means and there is no reason why we cannot follow the example of history and stand tall and proud and once again to build our country back. If we are unable to do it; we have no one to blame but ourselves.
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