As I witnessed the occasion sitting in the public gallery, I made a strong connection with paraphrased lyrics of the legendary Hugh Masekela’s Send Me song: “We are at a moment in the history of our nation when the people, through their determination, have started to turn the country around. We can envisage the triumph over poverty, we can see the end of the battle against Aids. Now is the time to lend a hand. Now is the time for each of us to say ‘send me’. Now is the time for all of us to work together, in honour of Nelson Mandela, to build a new, better South Africa for all.”
Throughout his address, Ramaphosa’s choice of words recognised that there is a transformative interpretive nuance that contributes to knowledge when history and contemporary interpretation of the state of our nation highlights silenced and marginalised voices of the citizens in the context of state capture that has engulfed our nation and which is now a subject of investigation by a judicial commission of inquiry.
Firstly, it is in this spirit that those of us in civil society circles welcome with a sense of commitment to be involved the announcement that: “In recognising the critical role that NGOs and community-based organisations play in tackling poverty, inequality and related social problems, we will convene a Social Sector Summit during the course of this year. Among other things, this summit should seek to improve the interface between the state and civil society and address the challenges that NGOs and CBOs face.”
In the case of the state of our nation today, there is hope that these silenced and marginalised voices of the citizens will once more be granted due recognition in a positive manner to share stories that draw from and contribute towards creating a unique archive record which is often located outside the four corners of libraries and national archive buildings, and is equally valuable.