Today we celebrate Freedom Day here in sunny South Africa. The problem is, we may have Freedom but we do not have peace. Every day my Facebook and Twitter feeds are packed with stories about xenophobia, criminality, hi-jacking, rape, murder… the list goes on and on. I no longer watch the news on television, I prefer to read it online where I can skim the headlines and choose what I want to read.
The problem with being South African is that we “make a plan” and get on with our lives. Hi-jacking? no problem! we simply install smash-and-grab windows into our cars, stop driving at night and plan our routes carefully so that we avoid dark/lonely/unsafe areas. Our kids don’t play outside anymore, we build huge walls around our properties and pay security companies to keep us safe. We install apps on our smartphones that track our moves and that can send distress signals to our loved ones if we are in danger. So instead of solving the problem, we simply work around it and allow the rot to spread.
Is this what the Struggle was about? To prevent oppression by the white minority and instead hand over power to a criminal and corrupt minority? (and no, I am not referring to the Government, I mean the actual criminals in this country).
Is there hope for South Africa? If the media, ex-pats, and my Facebook feed are to be believed, then no. We are doomed. I cannot accept that. We survived the Anglo-Boer wars, concentration camps (The British rounded up men, women and children and shoved them into concentration camps. Look it up, it happened right here in this country),and Apartheid. How is it that we cannot overcome this dark cloud of depression that has enveloped this country? If I didn’t know any better I would swear that there was a swarm of Dementors about.
The saddest part is that we are doomed to repeat the past. We are so distrustful of one another that we would rather attack first than wait to see if they mean us harm at all. The current xenophobia sweeping the country is a prime example of that. It is sad that people have to hide in refugee camps in order to remain safe. I spoke about our home-grown concentration camps earlier in this blog. Sound familiar? People who are on the wrong side of popular opinion get shoved into camps. History seems to have a nasty way of repeating itself in South Africa.
So what do we do now? I know what I will be doing, I am going to teach my kids the difference between right and wrong, to be respectful, honest and truthful at all times, and to be law-abiding citizens. And I am going to to try to make a difference, no matter how small, cause every journey starts with a single step.