Letter from the DM168 Editor
The criminal and political scumbags do not define who we are as South Africans
Now is the time to draw on every iota of inner strength, kindness, compassion and resourcefulness we have as a good bunch of people to make it through this season of darkness, strife and suffering.
Dear DM168 readers,
Before we dived into the hurly-burly of work schedules at our regular Monday DM168 production meeting (yes some of us worked on May Day), we chewed the fat about what we did over the weekend.
Designer Marushka Stipinovitch went snorkeling at a spot past Boulders Beach in Cape Town. Designer Bogosi Motau, who is based in Jozi, had a great time with his amazing daughters, wife and family making fires and telling stories (one of the benefits of load shedding is we all get to braai and be outside bonding with each other more often).
I managed to cleanse myself of last week’s blood-curdling Durban tow truck and drug wars front-page story with a fantastic swim in the Indian Ocean and a walk along the Point Beach pier with my friends, Warren and Yas.
Kassie Naidoo, our art director, hung out at a Koos Kombuis concert in Barrydale in the Karoo, where she met a Ukrainian tour operator called Olga. Because she speaks Russian, Olga makes a living showing Russian tourists the sites and scenes of South Africa.
What struck Kassie most about Olga, who has made our country her home for 19 years, was that despite all our problems, she loves it here.
Admittedly, no one would want to move back to Ukraine right now while Vlad Putin is revising history, bombing buildings and shooting citizens to justify his land grab, but many would argue that living in crime-ridden South Africa is not very different from a war zone. But Olga loves living here. What does she love most? South Africans. Us. The people. Now isn’t that something?
Yes, we have more than our fair share of racists, rapists, drug dealers, con artists, gangsters, murderers, crooked, arrogant, greedy businessmen and women, corrupt, populist, entitled, inept and clueless politicians and uncivil servants. But do these scum of the southern-most tip of the African continent make up the majority of who we are? Nope. Definitely not.
This led me to ponder what it is about a nation of people so historically torn, battered and broken by an authoritarian apartheid past and an unequal, collapsing, corrupt present that makes most of us not so bad. Actually quite decent. Kind. Funny. Caring. Feisty. Warm. Generous. Humane. Industrious. Creative.
There is no scientific answer to this except a clue from psychiatrist Victor Frankl, who was sent to Auschwitz by the Nazis in 1944. Surviving that horrific ordeal, in which he lost his wife and family, brought Frankl to the realisation that the fundamental basis for psychological and spiritual health is a sense of purpose and meaning. This he suggested can be found in three ways: 1) through work or deeds; 2) the experience of values through love, beauty, nature, family; and 3) the attitude we take towards unavoidable suffering.
I think good South Africans have an abundance of one or more of these three factors that make for meaningful lives.
Dear readers, now is the time to draw on every iota of inner strength, kindness, compassion and resourcefulness we have as a good bunch of people to make it through this season of darkness, strife and suffering.
Our front page story in DM168 this week is based on a long interview that journalists Ray Mahlaka and Julia Evans had with Electricity Minister Kgosientsho ‘Sputla’ Ramokgopa. Ramokgopa warns we should brace ourselves for higher levels of load shedding during winter if his plan for billions of rand of diesel to power gas turbines fails.
Read the story and tell us how you plan to deal with this prospect and what you think by writing to me at [email protected]
Yours in defence of truth and light at the end of the tunnel,
This story first appeared in our weekly DM168 newspaper which is available countrywide for R29.