Opinion / 13 November 2019, 2:22pm / Mogomotsi Diutlwileng
JOHANNESBURG - Saturday, November 2, 2019 was a very different day for South Africa. It was the very day when millions across the world rose up in great anticipation for the final between South Africa and England in the Rugby World Cup.
A few minutes after midday, CAT time, the 28-year-old Siyamthanda Kolisi, in a highly charged moment of victory, lifted the Webb Ellis Cup. South Africa were crowned the Rugby World Cup Champions. It was a most powerful and grand moment on so many different levels.
It represented victory in many areas other than just rugby. It declared victory in that, in a former whites-only sport, South Africa had conquered the world under the captaincy of a black African.
This triumphant moment, more than anything else, was a potent turbocharger in the “psyche” of our nation. And, as our captain Siya, said: “We have so many problems in our country” and we needed this psychological boost and the shifting of energy that this victory offers.
To fully comprehend the power of this moment and how it is an injection of necessary positive energy into the collective mind, soul and consciousness of our nation, one has to reflect on the context in which it has occurred.
The socio-economic conditions in our land are as bad as ever. Besides our persistent battle with issues of crime, gender-based violence and all other social ills, Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni recently delivered our Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), which paints a grim picture of the economy.
Our growth rate remains low and slow at 0.5 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP); external debt is at 47percent; the budget deficit is 6percent of the GDP; we have a high public sector salary bill; we have dysfunctional state-owned enterprises that remain dependent on the public purse; and we have no viable fiscal strategy to turn around our dismal economic trajectory.
In addition to all that, the night before the World Cup victory, Moody’s rating agency changed South Africa’s economic status from stable to negative, even though it affirmed our BAA3 long-term foreign-currency and local-currency issuer ratings.
This left South Africa only a notch above the sub-investment level, or what is called “junk status”. This negative socio-economic reality is the primary cause of our nation’s low morale, fear, frustration, anger and despair. If South Africa was a patient in therapy, we would be indisputably diagnosed with deep depression.
At this exact point in the life of our nation, the Springboks presented us with a world-class performance and victory. This triumph reminded us that deep within, beneath the rubble of our economic and social crises, messy political leadership and psychological defeat, lie the seeds of heroes and conquerors.
This corked-up, explosive positivity reminded us that we are a resilient nation - a people of hope. It spoke to the fact that we have potential so great that, as Captain Siya said, “We can achieve anything if we work together.”
In that single moment of victory, we were all reminded - from the elite to “people in the taverns, people in farms and homeless people and people in rural areas” - that despite all our differences and challenges, we ought to be a united people.
Something in that moment reconnected us with the potent power within and gave us a snap view of what is possible. And we celebrated together. All of us. Blacks, whites, coloureds and Indians; rich and poor. We celebrated together.
Some in our nation decided to go against the popular sentiments posturing as “realists” and “pragmatists”. They warned us not to be delusional, or fool ourselves, because a World Cup victory does not mean that all our problems evaporate.
Facebook, Twitter and all other social media platforms were lit with warning messages advising us not to be fooled.
Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of the EFF tweeted a few messages seeking to warn us against “rugby euphoria”.
One of the tweets from him said: “We are pushing against all efforts to pull a 1994/1996 on us AGAIN. We will not take the sleeping tablets of Rugby euphoria agian (sic). We will be better than our parents; we choose to feel the painful truth of our wretched conditions. We refuse unity without equality and the land.”
Ndlozi and some miss that our celebration was never meant to signify that we suddenly believe that all our problems and crises are gone. We did not forget about the racists among us. We will not forget that, as black people, we still need our land. How can we forget about poverty when the majority of our citizens are living in it?
We are quite aware that we are hugging and celebrating with the corrupt who have stolen from our public resources, and thereby from the poor. The women and children of our nation are quite aware that, as we celebrate, we are high-fiving rapists and abusers masquerading as uncles, brothers and neighbours.
Our jubilation does not mean that we are suddenly blind to the fact that our nation has one of the highest income inequalities around the globe as measured by the Gini index.
We celebrate in full awareness that, even as President Cyril Ramaphosa raised the cup of victory in Japan, back home we are still plagued by bad political leadership and moral scandals. We know all this and more. Yet, we consider it fit to celebrate.
We celebrate not because all is well and perfect. We are not that stupid.
The majority of us celebrate because we want to use anything, no matter how small, to increase our positive consciousness. We celebrate because we know that a negative consciousness, which distils into what is wrong and bad in our lives, will not embolden us to rise up and together turn around the fate of our nation.
Yes, we are cautioned by the realists of our nation that this rugby euphoria will not sort out our deep and historical problems. We all agree. It won’t. But neither will dwelling on negativity. The dejected energy in our collective consciousness will never inspire us to rise from the doldrums.
One thing is for sure: galvanising the positive energy and psychological message that lies at the heart of this momentous victory will stand a greater chance of triggering our potential to unite and transfer that energy to all critical and problematic areas of our national life.
It is now an established scientific and psychological fact that, whatever thoughts one runs in one’s mind, and whatever one passionately expresses, manifests as one’s reality.
If we have a national consciousness that is negatively wired through our thoughts and speech, we will definitely kill the potent creative energy that we inherently possess.
Yes, inspiration is definitely not enough to deal with all our structural problems, but a deflated nation immersed in negativity has no chance on earth to rise above its woes.
It is a defeatist negative mental state that impedes the flow of boldness, courage, hope, creativity and positivity in our nation.
Squashing our celebration by reminding us of our evils and challenges is counter-productive.
A relevant analogy is of a child brought up in a broken, poor and dysfunctional family, living in a shack with an abusive drunkard father and a despondent mother.
When such a child, against all odds, studies and obtains a university degree and the family celebrates, should we then spoil their moment of triumph by harping on the fact that we have to be realistic because such a child still lives in a shack; that the father is still a drunkard and the mother is suicidal and they might not find employment and that they are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty?
This is simply too harsh a perspective and defeatist.
Rather, we need to repeat positive stories like those of the young, black, impoverished Siya Kolisi, who rose up from ashes and degradation, and climbed all the way up to the pinnacle of world championship.
We need to inspire the depressed, young people - who are still where Siya was - to know and believe that it is not luck, but hard work, positive thinking and determination that got him to where he is.
And, more importantly, we need to help them believe that they can also do it. We need to ride on the wave of this victory to transfer that potent energy into the morale of our public servants that they give their all in serving the nation.
We need to draw from the energy of Siya’s and Rassie Erasmus’ leadership ethic to declare to our political leaders that they have it in them to lead us and prevent the looming economic crisis that could devour all of us.
Leaders and power-bearers in the private, political and civil sectors need to be reminded that deep within us are the seeds of goodness and compassion for the poor, seeds of Ubuntu that abhor corruption and a desire to share with all.
South Africa, we have it in us. This victory presents us with a powerful opportunity to send ripples of positivity throughout our nation.
With positive consciousness and more stories like Siya’s - such as the Ndlovu Youth Choir (the first choir in the history of America’s Got Talent to make the finals), Brad Binder (who on Sunday, age 24, won the Malaysian Moto2 Grand Prix), the legendary Caster Semenya, the Proteas SA Netball team (crowned Africa Champions), Chad le Clos, the well-known Trevor Noah, and many others - we can get South Africa to be victorious - over and over again.
Reverend Mogomotsi Diutlwileng is the author of The Creative Passionate Genius, organisational strategist and personal development practitioner.