“After all is said and done, more is said than done”
South Africans have a lot to complain about. As winter approaches, it is the lingering threat of Eskom’s load-shedding; for us Gautengers it is the haunting prospect that one day SANRAL’s e-tolls will catch up with us and we’ll all be sent to prison; and for anyone with a nature loving bone in their body, it is the tragic impending extinction of rhinos. And that’s not to mention the truly sombre state of affairs when it comes to violent crime rates, government corruption and the ever widening gap between rich and poor. And yet, that seems to be all we South Africans do: complain.
We love to “like” activist groups on Facebook and to “share” their pictures to show our solidarity with the cause. We love to post angry comments on news24 and to phone in to 702 with our 2 cents worth. We love to “dialogue” and to boldly claim what we would do if we were in charge. But talk is easy. It makes us feel as though we have achieved something, when in actual fact everything is exactly as it was before the conversation started. Now, I am not saying that discussion cannot be productive, but it would seem that standing on the side-lines saying, “Someone should do something about that”, has become a destructive South African past-time.
The question plaguing me the most right now is, why is Nkandla still standing? Why haven’t we burnt it to the ground yet? We pulled down statues of Rhodes, and destroyed paintings that reminded us of the bad old days, yet the living embodiment and reminder of the corrupt leadership that is running our country into the ground still stands?! And don’t even get me started on how we’re still allowing a man who grossly violated the Constitution he was sworn to protect to maintain his position of leadership. Oh, sorry, my bad, he didn’t grossly violate it (even though the mere thought makes me sick) he only violated it a little bit. You know, like how you only robbed a house a little bit because you left the toaster. Since when did violations become excusable based on degree??
Revolutionaries marched on Versailles in 1789, while the Bolsheviks gunned downed and slaughtered the entire Russian royal family in 1918. In more recent times, over 100 Ukrainians sacrificed their lives in the revolution of February 2014, when peaceful demonstrations against a corrupt government turned violent. Yet torching Nkandla just feels like too much hard work? Are the roads too bumpy for our suburban SUVs to get us there? No one wants to bear witness to the destruction of public property, nor look at monuments that remind us of a fractured past. We’re very vocal about it, but when it comes to actually doing anything about it, we’re happy to sit back and watch it unfold in the press; as long as we can leave our angry comments at the foot of the page.
Now I don’t just want to pick on South Africans. Apathy seems to be a human condition. This is most clearly reflected in the phenomenon of New Year’s Resolutions. The most popular of these tend to revolve around self-improvement: “This year I will be more fit, more healthy, more outgoing, more assertive.” You start off well. You join a gym, stock the fridge with fresh fruit and vegetables and buy a book called “Personality Power” or “10 Steps to a Better You”. But somehow the fruit and vegetables get past their best before you’ve had a chance to eat them, you never make it past chapter 2 and you find yourself slipping into the gym just to use the bathroom so that you don’t fall short of your Vitality quota. You’ve liked all the right pages on Facebook, you’re following all of the health gurus on Twitter, yet somehow it’s May and you still weigh the same and still feel breathless after the short walk from the basement parking garage to your office.
Once again we are all talk and no action. We want the outcome but aren’t willing to put in meaningful effort. We want to talk about what is broken, but we want someone else to actually fix it. We won’t leave our comfy spot on the couch to go for a walk around the block because Game of Thrones is coming on and we won’t stop buying donuts because they’re trendy and they taste so damn good. We won’t sacrifice a day of leave to participate in a protest and we will moan about the government yet won’t even take the time to attend a local council meeting. How many of you even know who your ward councillor is?
Since the end of 2010 rulers have been forced from power in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine; while civil uprisings continue across many African and Middle Eastern states. Yet JZ still has the seat at the head of the table and not a chicken coop in his kingdom has been so much as vandalised?
The part that makes my soul the most sore in all of this is the man standing next to our glorious president grinning ear to ear, making all sorts of promises that he has no intention of keeping. The man who worked tirelessly and broke down barriers to write the very Constitution that saved this country, is next in line to run it through the mud. Maybe that’s why he’s always looking so cheerful.
And so I ask again, why the fuck is Nkandla still standing? And why the fuck is that pugnacious douche bag still our president? Yes, I said pugnacious.
Perhaps it’s time we closed the laptop screens, started using our cellphones simply to make calls and rather than complaining, used our energy to initiate change, rather than just talk about it. Because as Dr Seuss says: