Everything that happened in our country in the past 25 years is a direct result of our thinking, our conduct and our attitude to ourselves, says the writer. File image.
Everything that happened in our country in the past 25 years is a direct result of our thinking, our conduct and our attitude to ourselves, says the writer. File image.

Let’s not blame ANC for SA’s mess, everything happened under our watch

Time of article published Aug 3, 2020

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By Sandile Memela

We Africans learn most from our most difficult experiences. We must not forget that following centuries of colonialism and decades of apartheid, we are still here and standing.

We have been bludgeoned and battered, but not broken. It is through nothing but sheer inner strength and spiritual resilience that we have pushed back the imperialists. I mention this because these are difficult times. The nation is assaulted by the 3-Cs: Covid-19, crime and corruption.

There is no need for us to spend so much of our lives focusing on the negative aspects, life experiences and history. We have only been free and democratic for less than three decades. So, let us see the past 26 years for what they truly are: the greatest lesson in self-betrayal. We must have the calmness of mind to accept that which we cannot change.

The capitalist economic system is inherently corrupt. Its pillars are individualism, selfishness and greed. In addition, we must have the courage to accept that no one is innocent. Everything that happened in our country in the past 25 years is a direct result of our thinking, our conduct and our attitude to ourselves. Yes, everything has happened under our watch.

It does not help to blame the ANC or its leaders. They would not do what they do if we did not approve.

Let us see this for what it is. The unbanning of the liberation movement, the return of exiles, the rise of Mandela and the advent of a democratic state has given us our greatest lesson: freedom can be betrayed.

We are entitled to learn from our mistakes. Do not think that those who have betrayed the Struggle are at peace with themselves. Look closely into their eyes; they are troubled souls. Yes, they have to contend with the wrath of the ancestors.

Let us look at the take-away lessons of the past 350 years. We now know for certain that trauma, pain, agony and, above all, corruption and betrayal are the highway to success.

Now we know what happens to Struggle heroes and politicians when they have access to the state’s resources.

We would not have learnt that our heroes and politicians are fallible human beings who put their individual interest first, before those of the people. We would not have known that some of our presidents were willing to push the country to the brink to get what they wanted for their families and friends.

But we are Africans who always look at the bright side of things. Thus, we have to see our problems, challenges and troubles as blessings.

We have, within a generation, reached a turning point that will see us learn from our mistakes and change for the better. Let us remind ourselves that our national character will be shaped not by an easy life, but in this trying time we discover who we really are as South Africans.

What we know is that what lies within us is far greater than the corruption around us. We need to be patient with ourselves. Let us not focus on the pain, the tragedy, the betrayal and the corruption. This, too, shall pass.

Nothing is permanent. Gradually, without even noticing it, we will find ourselves in the society we were ­destined to be. We may falter, but we have to keep walking.

Memela is a writer, cultural critic and public servant.

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