Sitting here in Lusaka watching the sunrise as I prepare to run a refresher module for my coaching programme for my Zambian students I’m missing out on a holiday at home. But perhaps it’s a good thing.
For those who know the history of our struggle of South Africans against apartheid, many would be aware of the times the struggle stalwarts spent in Lusaka in Exile.
They were hard times, even when the governments of these countries were empathetic to the plight of the South Africans, they still had their own challenges in their own country to deal with.
Now sitting here on June 16, I think about how it could have been then, I think about the hopes that John Dube, Pope Lewatle and Jones Ngubane had about the country they left behind, the families they left behind. I think about the courage it took and sacrifice, for an ideal they held dear.
I think about our 1994 elections as a START of something new, their victory, OUR victory.
And I think about where we are today, 40 years after Tsietsi Mashinini left the country to die away from home. 40 years after Hector Peterson died practically on his doorstep. 40 years after the young innocent that is me squeezed his way through my grandfather’s feet hearing the shouts of POWEEER! and the black smog in the air and seeing a cortege of “Hippos” going past our house on the corner of 11th Ave and Selborne, shouting, curious, “ke batl’o bona, ke batl’o bona” and I wonder: Was it worth it?
The emphatic answer: YES and the immediate follow up reflection is: otherwise I probably would not be sitting where I am writing this and continuing the work, in the best way I know how- helping change mindsets, in a way helping many heal from the scars of a history that run deep.
So thank you Cousin Tsietsi, Thank you Murphy Morobe, Thank you Hastings Ndlovu, Thank you Hector Peterson and a countless other unsung heroes that risked and some lost their lives so that there can be a better life for all.
As I sit here and reflect on a South Africa of today,I am also scared. I can imagine as I write this the Orwellian drama of one-upmanship that characterizes the politics in my country at the moment. The stadiumology, the pathology of selfishness, the smallness and the preoccupation with winning that has me thinking many of our current leaders have forgotten that the journey is not over. That the work of creating a better life for ALL does not start and end with hoarding everything for yourself. It doesn’t start and end with winning an election! That the task of an elected leader is SACRIFICE. That COURAGE comes from clarity of purpose and where that clarity is missing Fear ensues.
As we reflect on June 16, 40 years later, I do not believe it’s time for celebration. I believe it’s time for deep reflection, a time for deep remembering, somber and sober reckoning, about purpose and courage. The purpose of each of the 52Million South Africans and the SHARED purpose of all of us. Where do we go from here?
And what COURAGEOUS acts, what sacrifices are required to get there? what is my role as a LEADER to accelerate and support and facilitate our shared journey as a people?
I believe more than school uniform donning, more than rhetoric spewing, innocuous reminiscing – I believe today more than ever we can honor those that triggered the 1976 revolution by standing still and reflecting- then deciding on one BRAVE action that will take the country forward to the next decade.
Viva the spirit of 1976, Viva!
Viva the spirit of courage, Viva!
Viva the vision of a South Africa we all want to live in Viva!