Writer: Nthabiseng Magoma
South Africans take pride in their constitution, with good reason, obviously. They can be widely regarded as one of the most progressive in Africa. Democracy in South Africa is practically a rose that grew from concrete. In the great words of a legendary poet, Mzwakhe Mbuli: “…in the dustbins of history lies apartheid”. South Africans first had a taste of democracy on the 27th of April 1994; all citizens over the age of 18 were eligible to vote regardless of their skin pigment. This was a result of perseverance giving birth to success. Moreover, it took a lot of sacrifice from black South Africans who cried “freedom”, consecutively paying a high price for a most worthy cause, Democracy.
Theoretically, and ideally democracy is known to be the kind of government that in which its public, or rather citizens are free to elect its representatives to govern the country. With experience being a great teacher, it is clear that theories are not necessarily practical, with that in mind, democracy is indeed feasible.
The power of an unforgiving mind
As much as many are grateful and appreciative to the fallen heroes, such as Walter Sisulu, Winnie Mandela, Robert Sebukwe, Helen Suzman as well as Nelson Mandela, to name but a few. It is concerning that there is a slight chance that in the very same dustbins referred to by Mzwakhe Mbuli, people’s logic is being left there as well. Minds are still chained in by the country’s unfortunate history. People are intellects in their own rights; as a result they interpret democracy in different ways. For a greater part of the youth, democracy is admittedly interpreted as a synonym for silver spoon. This is evident in their level of comfortability, in getting free possessions, such as social grants to RDP houses. Phrases, “Government is failing us” or “Blame it on the President” are often being used in a slapdash fashion, and yes, leadership in South Africa do have their shortcomings and a lot can be said about that. This is a topic for another day, as no cup of coffee can ever be sufficient to be of assistance in discussing this matter. However, this does not justify the vast reliance on government.
Great as democracy is, it has somewhat served many as an escape blanket. The government is being looked upon to provide people with jobs and if it does not deliver many give up and do NOTHING. In essence this does not help anyone. Democracy does not necessarily mean that everything will be handed to you on a silver platter. Let one’s mindset not be that of a victim. When you forgive, you do not do it for the next person, if anything you, do it for YOU. Set yourself free of the victim mentality. South Africa would be a much better place if all was forgiven and not forgotten, because those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Often times the youth today have been referred to as the “lost” generation, this is informed by their exploitation of freedom. In comparison to the youth of 1976 today’s generation have not yet identified their struggle, but this does not mean it is not there. Young people are a major force in the contemporary world and are often at the forefront of global as well as social progress.
What has Tata, Nelson Mandela fought for? Hard work is what he believed in, never a victim but a victor. Yes make use of the opportunities brought to you by the government but, also focus on what you can do to better your life with great independence.
Making Democracy Work
Democracy’s integrity and sustainability depends, to a large or rather significant degree, on how it is applied in and what it brings forth. Even though democracies should successfully undertake vital issues such as unemployment, human rights and social development it also requires a nation to be goal orientated. Release yourself from the chains of apartheid; embrace history for it had a big hand in South Africa being what it is today. Be a part of those who have a positive contribution to the South African economy, rather than those who bring on a negative effect. Allow democracy to be more than a political state but also freedom of the mind.
For democracy to deliver tangible improvements in people’s lives people need to make their voices heard, not only by voting or complaining but by opting to make use of platforms such as the South African government blogs and referendums. A successful democracy also requires active, informed citizens who understand how to voice their interests, act and collectively hold public officials accountable.
This article was also published in the Skills Summit website