Writer: Simon Rakei
Year after year you read the same patriotic articles about this day. I will admit, they are quite lovely. But today I’ve decided to take you on another journey, one completely unorthodox. Instead of writing about the importance of this day, how it came about etc. (I will actually get to all that later), I decided to pose a question: what is right right now?
As a seventeen year old teen, things such as the Soweto uprising, apartheid etc. mean very little to me and my contemporaries, simply because we were born in what some would call “the golden age of the 90s”. So because a day such as this is important in our history and must be preserved as a form of our heritage, new ways must be found to make such historic achievements more appealing to modern day children, lest our heritage will go down the drain. It’s for this reason that today’s significance must be seen in less orthodox manner, because in reality, the 21st of march to my fellow peers is just as important as Halloween day, if not less…
So with the independence of our beloved country everyone now has equality; no discrimination due to colour, gender, and equal opportunities are now available for all people of the land. Is it so? Is everything still right? I’m a bit hesitant in answering that question, but no worries, will gradually snail along to the answer. In order to get there lets first examine status quo in terms; of what is right.
We are living in a democratic society. But what exactly is entailed in our democracy? Is it tailor made to suit everyone’s needs? Is it right? No! In our democracy there is crime, poverty, unemployment. This is what we see today. Not the South Africa Nelson Mandela went to prison for, or at least the South Africa he envisaged, or at least I would like to think so. Today is a day of celebration, yet in some part of the country someone is crying over the rape of a daughter, sister or friend. Someone is getting mugged or robbed of his car. Unfortunately it is fast becoming a culture-even a heritage-for South Africa to only revel in the darkness of its heinous deeds. From the way I see it, from the way any self-respecting youth sees it, status quo is only deteriorating. Each year there seems to be more bad than good.
With all these problems, the question must therefore arise. Who to blame, Mother Nature, the Government? Truth is we can’t point any fingers. What we can do is start doing what is right. And what may that be? Helping a blind person cross the road is a start. But even greater than that, we should start questioning policies, and start finding new and meaningful ways to reinvent ourselves, in the right way of course.
The wonderful thing about documents such as the constitution or the bill of rights is their complete state of definitiveness. They are practically the salvation of the modern day age, illuminating hope to those who once were despondent. Today we have the privilege of running to the constitution any time we felt our rights have been violated. But even more importantly, it serves as the pillar and the foundation of hope and the threshold with which our predecessors built the future. And that is what this day is about; building up on those dreams, already present, for the future. It is paramount for every one of us to embrace this free gift to dream, for if we do not dream for the future, we are not really living, and are instead, wasting the opportunity to flourish.
No matter how wrong things are at the moment, no matter how wrong things will become, even if there is nothing right, today serves as a reminder that the fundamental right for all rights is present, and will never die. The right which can never be taken from you, the right you were born with, the right which is not even in the constitution, the right to dream. Because we all have this ability, nothing is impossible. It reminds us that “we are but potters; life is the clay, creation is at our finger tips.”
Today not only symbolises a historic monumental achievement, but it serves to be the beacon of hope with which we base our lives. And each year it reminds us not only to base our lives around it, but to grow from it and brave new frontiers.
Happy Human Rights Day!