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The best of South African literature
We are horrified when a frightening massacre and deadly clashes between miners claim dozens of lives.
But later we shrug our shoulders and move on.
The haunting faces of the dead will vanish from our memory soon.
A few will fight to ensure that someone accounts for their death.
If they are lucky, we will remember the dead during the anniversary of the Marikana Massacre next year.
This is why no politician was interested in descending to the massacre scene until President Jacob Zuma’s visit on Fiday night.
Where was his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, who was acting president on that bloody Thursday?
When Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa was asked if he would go to Marikana, he flippantly told SABC TV that he was in Limpopo.
When young men slaughter one another in gang violence in the Western Cape, we play politics in our response to a desperate plea from the premier for a military intervention.
The images of the gang war zone and distressed community have suddenly faded away.
We hardly diagnose the social root cause, the political trigger and psychological fuse of these fatal gang clashes.
When our citizens kill foreigners because they can’t compete with them for the limited resources available, we write it off as xenophobic violence.
We look the other way unless they kill a dozen in a week like they did in 2008.
We zoom our lenses at frustrated community members venting their anger against incompetent and corrupt councils.
We call it service delivery protests.
We retire to our well-serviced suburbs and hardly ask deeper questions about the impact of such frustrations on our polity.
We express outrage at the funerals of assassinated comrades.
But life continues as soon as the television crew packs their equipment.
No one interrogates or warns against the destabilising effect of such assassinations.
Are we waiting for the death of a national figure to realise that political assassinations can reduce this country to ashes?
We play factional politics when comrades attack one another weekly as they battle it out for a position in government or a slice of a stolen state pie.
We call it succession battles.
We are fascinated by its ruthlessness and its sensational, intriguing twists.
Once the winner and losers emerge, we rest… until another succession skirmish erupts after five years.
We accept such a power struggle as a new political subculture, even when it brings the country down with it, corroding our political values and weakening our institutions.
We are shocked to the core when sociopaths and psychopaths – products of our twisted society – rape nonagenarians and toddlers.
We vent in exasperation.
But we are quick to move on, and subconsciously internalise the schizophrenic nature of our society.
We forget about the trauma, the humiliation and the pain of the victims until the next woman’s month.
Unfortunately, it will be too late when the violent streak in us as a nation is irrevocable, when the scars and pain of the frustrated masses and the wounded are irreparable.
It will be too late to save a battered country from the political thugs and power gluttons.