This is my belief: as much as 1994 saw the political freedom of South Africa, majority of the black race is yet to taste true freedom. I’m talking about freedom from mental slavery, the root of the problem. It has been said that if you tie up an animal long enough, it will struggle to comprehend that it can go further than its former boundaries even after being released. Steve Biko once said that the most powerful weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed. I don’t even need to justify that the Apartheid system enslaved black people in South Africa, this is a known fact. I also see no need to prove that our democratic South Africa still has very visible scars because of injustice. The legacy of Apartheid is real, white privilege is real. I do agree that some of our wounds will take a while to heal, but the time to nurse them is now. We’re trying, that much I can see, our government is trying (for the most part anyway).
Judge me if you must, but I think socialism has somewhat ruined us as a nation. Coming from an era where we were forced to work for little to nothing, the first thing we were taught, as we entered into this ‘democratic era’ is that we can depend on others for our own existences. A lot of us still depend on the government and other sources for a living. We’ve become a society where it’s normal for a grown man to sit and wait on the government to build him a home. Instead of equipping us with skills to fend for ourselves, the system further dis-empowers us. I feel the same about BEE. As noble as the idea behind it is, I see cracks. Think about it, one day you’re broke and the next you’re R1million richer from a tender. We’ve now come to believe that wealth is instantaneous. We want money, and we want it now. Most of us are buried under debt, with our heads barely above water. As far as money is concerned, majority of us are still in chains.
Not to shift blame but I think we’re the victims here. I don’t buy into the whole ‘black people are lazy’ stereotype. I mean, we have an entire country built by the hands and sweat of black labour. My understanding is that we had our own way of doing things before colonization, and suddenly had to adapt to a new system unfamiliar to us. The way our ancestors lived their lives was working, and it was rudely interrupted. Let us not assume that colonization was a saviour for South Africa, I believe the contrary is true… but that’s a story for another day.
The solution is simply education (and I’m not talking about schooling here), just basic skills development and the sort, especially where financial education is concerned. We have to be taught how things work in this new world. Better yet, we need to educate and empower ourselves. 23 years is long enough for us to see that only we can free ourselves, nobody else will. We have to read up on issues that affect us, rediscover the value of hard work, time and persistence. Let’s reignite our spirits and pioneer new frontiers in every industry. Let’s think big! We really are capable of doing all we put our minds to.