THINGS WILL COME RIGHT IF WE WORK TOGETHER AS A NATION AND PERSEVERE, cost we don’t need unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky propogranda, writes Rev Dr Mvume Dandala.
The will to persevere is invariably based on hope. The story goes that in Belfast, Ireland, graffiti on a wall which said: ‘Where there is Life, there is Hope’, had been changed to read: ‘Where there is Hope, there is Life’. How true this is. Setting clear goals for the nation will engender hope for the future. A place to start is to remember and learn from our own stories.
What was it for so many years during the oppression and suffering of the past that kept people focused? It was the strong and powerful living hope that change would eventually come. What is needed today, is a message to our nation immobilised by the critical issue of crime, that this too will be overcome – strong, simple and clear.
We don’t need unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky propaganda that says South Africa will be okay. The idea we need to get across is that things will come right if we work together. Everyone’s hand must be put to the plough. This means joining community police forums and engaging the police rather than criticising them for doing a bad job.
From our pulpits, temples, synagogues and mosques in which godly values should not only be preached but practised, our people need to be soaked in a positive vision of positive national pride in the future with powerful signs such as reconciliation and sharing. It is this that will promote perseverance. I cannot persevere if I am not convinced of a positive outcome not only for my loved ones and myself, but also for the nation. A nation of entrepreneurs who seek to create wealth for themselves and for others! A nation of learners in school classrooms trying to outdo each other in dreaming of ways to improve life! Forget entitlement.
Perseverance is not a burden, but the privilege of seeking to make things better. If I fail, I’ll try again. Remember the inventor who had tried 800 times to accomplish something and when he was ridiculed for failing said, ‘I may have failed but I have found 800 ways of
NOT doing it?’
Change is never easy and rectifying the imbalances of the past through programmes like affirmative action will inevitably be painful, but unavoidable. Our white compatriots are part of the future and they must be given to understand that they are accepted – indeed – that they are needed.
As a middle-aged white with years of invaluable experience – by sharing with those who have not had your opportunities – you become a key player, not a victim. Ploughing back and seeing the success of one’s endeavours, will not only engender pride in the rewards, but is likely to spur one on to even greater perseverance.
Mentorship programmes done in a positive spirit must characterise our lives together as we rebuild our nation, would not only be a powerful incentive, but an affirmation of the mentor.
The days of race-specific rallies must be numbered. Are we going to revert to the bad old days of apartheid, when national celebrations were seen as a day of leisure for the masses, supported exclusively by only one race group?
How demographically representative of the country were the June 16 celebrations? And, before you admonish me for attempting to enforce racial integration, take time to ponder the advantages of a South Africa in which the intellectual expertise of our people of all races is retained to the benefit of all South Africans, rather than contributing to the glut of expertise in first world countries.
Rev Mvume H Dandala is General Secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches, former Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, and is the recipient of the Presidential Order of the Baobab (Silver) for his peace-making role in South Africa.