Defend Truth


True national dialogue needs to speak truth to power

Bio: Khensani Masisi, a wits student studying BA and an activist who is a pioneer for change and a Pan Africanist

It is ironic how we have ambitions to change the world and be pioneers of change, but so few of us manage to do this.

Our dreams to be the greatest and leave legacies get lost in the rumblings of the world and in the struggle of hustling. Questions about who are we, what we want, where we want to end up and how we get there end up being replaced with the pronoun “I”.

This obsession becomes the game changer as it denounces collective achievement and encourages self-gratification and individualism, much like the system of capitalism which leaves people behind. But those that do try to achieve change often find themselves getting lost in issues that are not easily comprehended. Politics of the stomach, greed, power, autonomy, PHD (Pull Her Down) syndrome and possibly the enslavement of the black mind, the chains and scars of colonialism, slavery, self-hate, black hate and all the struggles that make up the black nation in essence inhibit us from creating an African Utopia.

The choices we have made have effectively turned us into what we are now; the decisions “we the people” have made and those the so-called “political elites” have made for us have put us in this predicament.

In this new freedom, there is anger and bitterness that still brews in our stomachs. There is a denial of our blackness, cowardly behaviour towards whites and a fear of speaking truth to power in open spaces. We hide our true thoughts and feeling because we were told we were liberated, we are free and we should be happy. All this has left a bitter taste. Society is so angry and this anger is revealed through the poison that runs through our nation’s veins.

The victims of this pain become our mothers, sisters, daughters and children of this nation. Our fathers are powerless and belittled by poverty and the scars they endured from white power and capital by the rule of colonial powers. Our fathers have been betrayed by the very system they fought for, the inability to feel like a man, to feel like the patriarchs of their families, like providers.

Our fathers were stripped of responsibilities through slavery and having to work far from their families; the lack of dignity that comes with them fleeing their homes and leaving our African homes fatherless. We have become an irresponsible nation full of angry and depressed children, revealed through drug abuse and anger. Our mothers and sisters have been turned into the sole providers responsible for families, communities and nations. They carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, ba tshwara thipa bohaleng, ba tshwara malapa ka buiama.

We want to be pioneers of change, and it is from this desire that policies such as the National Development Plan are created. The national dialogue I refer to here is the one the Thabo Mbeki Foundation initiated to create conversations around the country, to reconnect with the people from the grass roots and get an understanding as well as solutions to the country’s problems and promote civic education. So far it has taken place through multiple forms of media to mobilise people to attend and participate in these interactions within different provinces in the country.

It is there to inspire change and encourage us to face our challenges as a country and a continent, more especially those who are not political elites. It provides ordinary civilians with the space to express themselves and find solutions to their own problems. It seeks to create a space where a true sense of listening and taking note occurs and opinions and ideas are taken seriously.

It is through these national conversations that we truly challenge who and what we are and discover our true potential to achieve what we would have deemed impossible. It is through speaking truth to power that we are able to dismantle the chains that bind our communities and societies into a culture of dependency.

Furthermore the national dialogue concept I speak of here aims to educate those who have been left in the trenches and do not have an understanding of what this new democracy means and how it is exercised. However, the “incoming middle class” emerging from institutions of higher learning seem to think they know all about democracy and the ability to exercise their liberties merely because they form part of the born-free generation. This is not true.

Young people need to understand that knowledge and power has to trickle down from above to the grass roots. We need to create spaces for interaction to include those that have been excluded due to poverty.

We have adopted concepts that were foreign to African culture by idolising capitalism and whiteness.

Questions that need honest debate include why are we still poor despite liberation, why are we still diseased, why are we not afforded the same opportunities as our white counterparts, and why are we still landless and unable to access quality education. Why do we hate each other as South Africans, why do we hate each other as black people and most importantly why do we as black people hate ourselves?

The NDP seeks to address our socio-economic and political errors but has failed to seek solutions from the people, the civilians that live in these conditions daily and can speak from a lived experience.

It has failed to implement, monitor and evaluate its programme, in that the NDP has set goals but has not achieved them and has failed to label and assess the progression of its intended end goals. Furthermore the NDP has failed to have the necessary discussions with the relevant people to ensure that it is moving in the direction that is not only suitable for the nation state but for the individuals and communities involved. Not only that but there is a lack of honesty about generational legacies that will not be fixed overnight.

Mother Africa has cried for her children but her children have not yet mourned what their beloved continent has lost. South Africans are still angry, the process leading to democracy failed to allow people the space to understand issues around the economy and the new world they were entering

As much as we have freedom of movement and autonomy, there are spaces that are still monopolised by white people and white capital. It is difficult to enter these spaces without capital hence we have problems in institutions of higher learning.

The concept of education should not be just about getting a qualification so that you can get a job to ultimately escape poverty. Rather, it should be a question of how do I go to school and get an education that I can take back to my community to better the lives of everyone around me?

The reality is that there are communities where only one or two people are afforded the privilege of higher education. The aim should be trying to make education benefit even those who did not have access to it and to transfer knowledge so that it can be exercised by everyone. We should be the drivers of our economy, just as the Indians and the Arabs have become.

Our understanding of education should be for it to allow us to better understand the global world and how to manoeuvre around it as Africans; to allow us to explore and accumulate knowledge to better build our continent and country; and create institutions that are best suited to our people – institutions that not only complement the global world but also the world we know but most importantly that are best suited to our country’s societal dynamics.

Let Mother Africa not weep for her children for eternity. Let not her children be failures when they were once kings. Let her stories not be told by others but by her own children. And let not her children dwell in self-hate and bitterness because that is what kills her spirit, her joy and her everlasting beauty. DM


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