by Snenhlanhla Shangase – South Africa in turmoil! For weeks news headlines have been bombarding us with shocking headlines and everybody has become a social media politician. Everyone has an opinion! But do they? What about the silent masses???
Nositha is one of the Ugu District Municipality villages, the most desperate looking villages in this area, despite being less than five minutes away from the lush suburbs of the Margate and Ramsgate, with their blue-flag beaches and a booming tourism industry. Nositha schools, despite many efforts by neighbouring Non-Government Organisations and Churches, are just plain sad. Outsiders fear driving into the area in bad weather. On any day of the week scores of young, unemployed adults can be seen sitting under trees, in their small yards or on the veranda of the only grocery/convenience store in the whole area. Nositha, as other villages of course boasts some excitement that can be had from time to time. People meet at any of the two taps that provide the whole village with water, for some much needed social time.
Some on the main comments were:
“The ruling party saved us from apartheid!”
“There are no other parties to vote for. We can not trust DA we do not trust white people. EFF doesn’t count, Malema is Zuma’s son who is just angry with daddy and will go back home one day!”
“If ANC goes the social grants will go with it!”
“Because I am ANC, my family has always been ANC and we will always be ANC come rain or sunshine!”
Conversations flowed easily until politics was brought up… The atmosphere changed. A distinct aggression settled over the crowd.
“Politicians don’t care about us. They care about the money, their expensive drinks at Sky-Bar (upscale restaurant, hotel and bar in Margate). They drive past us in their Mercedes like we are nothing.” This was one of the comments thrown about, with most of the villagers all having their say with similar comments.
After a long discussion about the many services they have been promised but never received, I wanted to know why they did nothing about all this, and looking at me like I was crazy, they said: “We are just the little people on the ground, what can we do?
I then pushed to find out what political party they voted for and if they would continue to vote for it. An astounding, if not completely surprising “Yes!” filled the air.
“Why?”, I wanted to know.
My observations were the following:
The people are completely ignorant of current affairs. They either knew nothing or very little. These are people with only SABC Television, no internet and no social media. Newspapers do not sell in this area but who could afford them anyway?
They are greatly impacted by national politics but strangely or intentionally in the dark about them. Could this be the reason for the lack of logic behind some of their reasoning?
So where to from here?
After spending time with these people and others from similar rural communities, my solution is: An ‘Open Dialogue Workshop’, to gather the people in one place and dialogue with them about current affairs like the SASSA debacle, what ‘junk status’ means, or why the noise of the cabinet reshuffle and what the marches are all about. The aim should not be political reshuffling of the mind but basic education on current affairs. This should be about people venting, connecting and learning from each other.
How to: Conversations with community leaders
I spoke to Bab’ Richard Sima a traditional leader of Nositha he said: “The ANC dominates in Nositha. The young and old alike know nothing about politics, they just support the organisation. Ignorance is bliss, they do not know what they are missing so they are happy with crumbs. Young people need political education, it is time for them to fight. We are tired. We have fought our struggle”, however we are all affected by political unrest. If the rand drops, prices go up and government spends even less on community projects so we will lose even the crumbs that we get. The young people are the only ones who can bring change now. I also spoke to Solly. An ANC official who did not want his name nor his position revealed as his office is under investigation. “The questions you ask suggests that the people are ignorant. The people are not ignorant. They know what the ANC has done for them. Obviously people need change but change takes time and it is not an overnight business. It might not look like it but we work very hard and all this negativity we face is not helping. It’s just propaganda.”
Would you support the community dialogue if someone implemented it?
Bab’ Sima “I can’t support such programs. It could only work if done in secret. I would not want to be seen as taking sides. It’s the only way to stay in touch with my people. There is too much division already and my interests have to remain above politics at all times.” Mr Solly said: “We support all efforts of people empowerment. We do not, however, support people who have agendas to blind our people with their political propaganda. Bring your proposal but we cannot promise money as all our energies are concentrated on empowering our people” As confusing as this was I had no hope of finishing this conversation as the Glenfiddich 15 years Reserve that had been flowing all evening was taking its toll.”
A CALL TO ACTION:
Whether the local ANC or other stakeholders will support this initiative or not, IT will not stop me! Africa does not have to be the Dark Continent when so many of us can actually see the light. “It only takes a spark to get a fire going” It is not right that the majority of South Africans live in the dark about matters that can have such a disastrous impact on their daily lives. True Ubuntu is sharing the truth with each other.
I need volunteers, I need donations, I need people with insight to help me share this message. Help me bring this much needed light into rural South Africa.