While sitting in the sprawling Ga-Mashie township on the outskirts of Accra in Ghana last week I saw once again the familiar tensions between development imperatives necessary to grow an active citizenry and its political masters with their own agendas.
The story of Ga-Mashie is a parallel story to District Six. It is out of Ga-Mashie, the home of the Ga people, that Accra was born. But promises made by both colonisers and current government leaders to develop Ga-Mashie have not materialised and the once proud home of the Ga people has become a modern-day slum like many others across the world.
As a continent we are stuck in the stranglehold of increasing inequality. We wake up each day to a deepening despair at the intransigence of corruption, broken promises and violence.
In pondering all this, the words of American naturalist John Burroughs comes to mind. He once said: “Jump and the net will appear.’’ While the statement appears to be loaded with risks and danger it is exactly what we require from leadership across the development and political sectors now.
Nothing will change if we are cautious and risk averse. It will only change if we are intentional and deliberate.
For the women and youth in South Africa there is no change to their story despite 25 years of democracy. From the murder of the 18-month-old Worcester baby in June this year to the brutal murder of Toto Madikizela, 78, in KwaNdengane Village in Mbizana a few days ago we stare into the brutal abyss of the failure of both political leadership and development bravery.
I recently sat listening to young Lisolethu Mali sharing her thoughts with a panel of judges from the University of Cape Town, LeadSA and Cornerstone Institute about her dream to become president.
The 15-year-old pupil from Masibambane Secondary School set the room alight with her speech on the future of South Africa.
It earned her a R100 000 bursary to study at a university of her choice when she finishes high school.
South Africa needs brave men and women such as her, who are all willing to jump to build a better country. We must be brave enough to form a new coalition against the poverty and corruption.
In this context, I think of Petro MacDonald who initiated the Valleys and Mountains Project in Bonnievale from her own funds to invest in the youth of Bonnievale.
She and her late husband were anti-apartheid activists for decades and still today she invests all she has to help build a better country.
We need more people such as Lisolethu and Petro who are willing to jump – and believe that the net will appear.
To support Lisolethu and Petro who are on the front lines of changing the South African story we will need brave leaders from all sectors who will stare down the monsters of corruption and pessimism and connect with their counterparts in every sector to become the new moral centre of our coalition against poverty and corruption – people, who will lead us with their own brave ideas to stop hunger and child deaths?
Where are the brave ideas coming from to end school violence? The government and NGOs must strengthen their coalition to provide the necessary safety nets for the citizenry. It is time for us to jump – together.
* Lorenzo A Davids is chief executive of the Community Chest.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.