A letter to the politicians from a South African woman

Please make SA a place where our gifts and talents can easily thrive, a South African woman writes to politicians. File picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers

Please make SA a place where our gifts and talents can easily thrive, a South African woman writes to politicians. File picture: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 4, 2024


Once the voting and negotiations are done or perhaps as the negotiations are happening we must remember why.

It is not just politics for the sake of politics or just to boast of what a brilliant democracy we have on this massive continent. In the end, this is about Innocent Masuku. It is about talented people who deserve a place to thrive in this country. It's about the untalented who deserve a simple right to a living too.

It's about just living life where politics are no longer a way for people to think that's how to make money. It's about what Dali Tambo said about his dad, that politics, like being a reverend must be a calling not something to make one rich. This is possible when the country works for everyone.

There will be less motivation for the existence of inkabi because he can make the same or more doing an honest job that won't lead him to live with a seared conscience and turned him into a monster. He can still have his humanity.

Yeah, it's about 2024 being the unfinished business of 1994 but it's really simpler than that It's just about living. It's about the right to have a living and have the fullness of life in a peaceful country that works for everyone not just some. It's about living in a just country that's not trying to keep the population enslaved or criminalised.

It's just about the simplicity of having children to access education and have food everyday.

It's about the safety of a grandmother, the safety of children and women in the streets. It's not ideological. It's just about everyone having a right to an equal shot at life under the same sun.

It's about uncontested joy and human flourishing.

It's not that difficult!

It's what you want for your children. Your neighbour's children want that too.

This weekend, Innocent Masuku lit up Britain's Got Talent as the new Pavarotti, moving judges to their feet and others to tears. We did not know him in this country until his smile and talent blew up on BGT to remind us of the abundant brilliance of our people again.

The issue is that there are plenty of Masukus but they have not made it to London and neither should they need to before we know about them.

Why should it take so much self-belief to dust yourself and uproot yourself to be seen by the world so that your light will be seen by your fellow countrymen and women?

Of course what we have is also for the world to enjoy but we need to value our people and see them and make it possible for them to be great here too.

This week I will be reading my poetry for an association of American writers. They will pay me for it. I have no idea how they found me but they did.

It made me think of how I only know Innocent Masuku through an international show. It also made me think of how our talents can't seem to find room in our backyard and how that grieved me though it was affirming to be seen beyond your shores when no one cares about your work where you are.

I have never received such an invitation in my own country. Strangely though I am worthy to be featured across the seas.

It makes me wonder who this country works for or what sort of person you need to be. But mostly it reminded me that if I am often so discouraged about my own talents how much more others who might be a little less able to self-encourage.

It is not fair nor is it normal to have to be an extraordinary optimist just to keep your hope alive.

This is less about talent or acceptance but about how our country must work for everyone. It's why we voted. I must not have to be extraordinary and out of this world in order to be visible.

It's possible to be good enough for just your neighbourhood and still make a living out of your talents just because you are living in a country that works for everyone.

Anyway, seeing Innocent shine and my own less significant invitation made me think about all these political negotiations that the leaders must not forget what it's all about at the end of the day.

It's about the people and the guy or woman nobody knows as much as it's about the one that needs to be seen by the whole world. Both must thrive with relative ease and not through extraordinary overcoming.

Phumzile van Damme recently highlighted the mental health issues that unemployment causes the unemployed. Something I wish I knew nothing of. It cannot be. It cannot be. It cannot be.

We can no longer afford to waste our youth nor waste our people's talents. And in many cases, our youth's talents and opportunities and destinies have been largely stolen by corruption. Sometimes until the youth have become too old without being able to contribute meaningfully in the country of their birth.

If I can make an appeal to all the leaders who must reach a decision to move us forward, this is really what it's about. It's about the ordinary people of this country. It's about their future.

It's about their parents and grandparents not going to the grave with broken hearts because all their hopes for their children and grandchildren still cannot be realised in what they imagined would be a free country.

Yes, it's about the lights, the water and all the riches of this country that must benefit all. Even as I write this, load shedding has already struck to remind us again of the reality we are facing and what our leaders must immediately fix.

This democracy began with a charge: "Who are you not to be brilliant... you are a child of God."

We are children of God and we want a government that does not hinder our brilliance. We want to truly feel that we too are in truth children of God.

I plead with all the leaders for the sake of the old and the young alike, please, make SA a place where our gifts and talents can easily thrive!

* Siki Dlanga is a writer, poet, gender activist and political media analyst.

** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of IOL or Independent Media.

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