Where to the New South Africa?

On 12/30/2008 at 10:40 AM, in an email message a friend wrote that I should read Breyten Breytenbach's open letter to Nelson Mandela.

This is my reply:

Hi David,

Thanks for the email and the pointer to the Breytenbach letter. I have previously read about it. I now tried to read it, but failed to read it all as it does go on a bit. Never the less, no one cannot deny the points he is making and certainly not the eloquent manner in which he makes them.

Going back to my teens fifty years ago, I recollect hearing people express the fear of South Africa going the way of other African countries as the Winds of Change started blowing across Africa. I also recollect arguing with my Dad some forty years ago about majority rule and that it was inevitable in South Africa. Twenty years ago I actually started to look forward to the new South African in the hope that it would end the angst, the violence and open up the economy. The latter prospect was especially appealing as with all South Africans actively engaged in the economy my pension and retirement would surely be a safe bet.

It was never going to be easy to create the new South Africa. For the whites it would mean having to be satisfied with less. For the blacks it would be an era of opportunity and advancement. We were inevitable going to make mistakes and have to pay for them. Unfortunately we seem to have made more mistakes than I would have hoped for. In all of this the whites have to a degree maintained a larger mentality and the blacks have suffered from entitlement. We were not going to get there overnight.

Hopefully the tide has now started to turn. The new developments in the political dispensation (new opposition party) seem to suggest that there will be an opportunity for the first significant New South African political party to emerge.

Hopefully we will now also be able to put right two of the big mistakes that I feel have been made during the past fifteen years.

The first would be our inability to prevent so much talent being lost to the country in recent years.

The second would be that we have allowed our educational system to be trashed without putting something worthwhile in its place. Why we had to scrap Teacher Training Colleges still escapes me. So does the demise of the Technikons. We have destroyed a working hierarchy of qualifications in this respect to create a level playing field. If we all enjoyed exactly the same abilities in all the forms of endeavour we are faced with, then surely we would all have been in the South African Cricket team these past few weeks.

Clearly we cannot all be in the national team. What we all can do, is to think hard about we want for the future of South Africa and then vote in the upcoming election. I know I certainly will be doing that as I need to make sure that the right kind of people join me in Parliament in 2009. After all if I am going to be playing cricket for South Africa, I may as well also join the legislative team to ensure that us cricketers get a square deal.

Like some of the other contributions on these pages, this one too has mostly been written to help me come to terms with myself and my own position in the New South Africa. I do not want to have to go to Australia, especially now that we are beating them at cricket.

I trust you and your family have had a Blessed Christmas and that 2009 will be a good year for all of us.