A prayer for Mzansi: reflections on the May 29 election

Bongani Nicholas Ngomane is a PhD student at the University of Witwatersrand. Picture: Supplied

Bongani Nicholas Ngomane is a PhD student at the University of Witwatersrand. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 19, 2024


Bongani Nicholas Ngomane

As the sun set on May 29, a heavy silence descended upon South Africa. The elections had come and gone, leaving a trail of shattered hopes and unfulfilled promises.

We are a nation that has borne witness to the cyclical dance of history, yet we remain trapped in its relentless grip. “We learn from history that we do not learn from history,” they say, and never before has this paradox felt more poignant.

The echoes of apartheid reverberate through our present, a haunting reminder of the connections and continuities that bind us to a past we cannot escape.

Alude Mahali echoes Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s lament, acknowledging that the scars of our apartheid history are etched deeply into the fabric of our society. The divide and rule policy, an age-old tactic, has found new life in our modern political landscape, exploiting and deepening the fissures of racism, tribalism, and economic inequality.

The election has laid bare the raw wounds of our nation. It has exposed the systemic issues within our social institutions that perpetuate division and inequality.

And yet, amid this sea of despair, there is a flicker of hope. A hope that transcends the current spectrum, a hope that change for the better is possible.

Mzansi, our beloved country, must not become a weapon of its own kleptocracy, condemned to swim in a pool of suppressed circumstances. The notion of change remains a cherished ideal, even if we have never truly experienced it.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the South Africans who, despite their disillusionment, continue to contribute to the progression of our democracy — a democracy that has, too often, failed to serve its people.

From the oppression of apartheid to the suppression under the guise of democracy, our faith remains unbroken. We wait in the silence, listening for the wisdom left by those who came before us, those whose voices once filled this land with hope.

Until then, let it be so. Makubenjalo. The rhetoric wrath of a dying nation echoes through the silence. We say a prayer for a world once filled with voices of hope, now diminished to a whisper. Place the pedestals on the coffin of their attempts, for they were not blinded — helpless, they were placed.

Nkosi sikelela, God bless Africa. We stand in the twilight of our dreams, clinging to the hope that one day, the dawn will break, and the change we so desperately seek will finally come to pass.

Ngomane is a PhD student at the University of Witwatersrand, specialising in applied drama and public performance ethnography. With a Master of Arts degree in Applied Drama: Theatre in Education, Communities, and Social Context.

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conflict war and peace