South Africa is exhausted. With high unemployment and few prospects, the youth are hopeless. Perhaps what we need is to regroup and dare to dream again. If there is no motivation for us to fight for a better tomorrow, we will see nothing wrong with burning down what we have today. If it wasn't the Zuma issue, some other frustration would have fuelled the current outrage. Do we wait for the next issue and react to that again or sit down and look for a long-term treatment option for our national pain?
During #FeesMustFall, the young people of South Africa had a shared dream. We all had a hope for the future of South Africa - one where young people played an active role in the economy and prosperity of our nation. The struggle for free education was as much from a place of wokeness as it was from a dream. If there had never been a dream of a democratic nation that our parents wished for us to grow up in, perhaps they would have burnt down the country in their righteous anger fuelled by the injustices that one didn’t even have to be woke to be aware of. It isn’t the full speech of Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr that the world remembers, but the dream he shared. It is as important to dream as it is to woke up and do something about it.
A friend once said, "Enough has been enough for quite some time now". So, I fully understand the anger and the outrage. As much as I cannot at all support the violence and criminal behaviour, I can honestly imagine the bursting of the ticking time-bomb of South Africa’s pain looking a lot worse than the current situation. We have centuries old wounds that have been re-covered over many hundreds of years without being allowed enough room and acknowledgement to recover. In the natural, leaving a wound unattended for too long may lead to an amputation if not death altogether. At this point, I think the wound has just burst open. And the whole body is [about] to feel the heat. However, as much as it hurts and we are exhausted, I do not think that all hope is lost yet. This is the wake-up call for us to dream again.
I think that we need a chance to dream again, as a nation. At this point, the lines of segregation have deepened so much so that there is no longer a common goal that applies to all South Africans. In this age of information, there are lots of formulas on how we ought to do life. Everyone has an opinion. There is a woke perspective on everything from identity to career choices to relationships. We cannot let our guard down at any point anymore. Our entire lives are a constant struggle, and then we have the pressure of being watched by the world as we try to figure it all out. We barely sleep, because we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. Between the demands of our daily lives and the realities of our wokeness, we can become quite hopeless.
In recent years, the number of young people who lose their lives to suicide has spiralled. This is but one sign of the state of hopelessness that we are currently in. I can personally attest to the feeling of failure that deemed any hope for a better future. To a point where death felt like the only viable option. But, that wasn’t true. My focus on the wrong took up all of my time, I didn’t have any time left to dream. Now, this may seem as though I am downplaying the current situation or the gravity of suicidal thoughts. And I am doing neither of these. I am actually saying that the country is on the verge of committing suicide if we do not wake up and start seeking professional help for our national traumas. I am saying that we need to rest and dream again. We need to create a hopeful future, one that we will all be willing to work towards.
South Africa needs to heal and dream again. There’s still hope.
Written by Kay-Dee Mashile, Activate! Change Drivers