Cry, the Beloved Mzansi

Increasingly crime and violence in South Africa has been brought to my attention. It has gotten to the point where we hear horrific stories in the news that make us feel both outraged and demoralised at the same time. We live in a sea of distractions, just as you focus on something, something else happens and draws your attention to it making it difficult to remain focused on the big picture.

What is the big picture for South Africa?

Well, the big picture is as Nelson Mandela said, “I dream of an Africa which is at peace with itself”. A harmonious, loving and dynamic Africa. In fact, sometimes it seems like the whole world is on fire, not only our beloved continent and there are so many things going wrong globally. In the spiritual community they say focus on the positive, what can you learn from the chaos?

Well, I think in South Africa’s case we can learn to be united even as a people of diverse backgrounds. Apartheid and colonialism, were violent crimes against humanity and their legacy has left South Africa very fragmented. It is within the fragmentation that lawlessness is able to thrive as we are not meeting the societal challenge head on but rather are choosing to deal with crime separately yet it affects us all.

Apartheid functioned in such a way that it purposefully created tears in the social fabric of the community. With policies such as the Group Areas Act, and the migrant labour system that intentionally destroyed the bedrock of African familial structure. These tears caused many silent tears.

Apartheid policies separated south Africa according to race, the affluent areas were the white areas. A small portion of land that was inarable was designated to black people far away from the urban economic centres. So, the black man who in a patriarchal society is the head of the family, had to leave the home and live temporarily in urban areas away from his family and send money home, as the family wasn’t allowed to live in white areas.

Photo by Evan Kirby

Relocation (among other state interventions) was therefore seen as part of a broad state agenda of dividing (and therefore weakening) the common bonds between dominated classes by the location and relocation of black people into ethnically-divided Bantustans or homelands. Disorganisation and fragmentation are depicted as essential to the maintenance of class exploitation by preventing unified resistance, blocking claims to common citizenship, and keeping wages low

T. Emmett of the Child, Youth and Family Development Research Programme, Human Sciences Research Council.

With the family structure broken women too had to go seek work as domestic servants of white people. Leaving the black child vulnerable and isolated.

With the disruption of families and communities, children were the main victims, as they had to cope with the absence of parents, neglect, malnutrition, domestic violence and abuse

T. Emmett

At the hands of the apartheid state these broken-down children, grow up to be broken adults who do not support their children. And so, we have generations of broken adults and young people who grow up thinking brutality and social alienation is normal. Its normal to live in a community that is not connected. But disintegration is the opposite of the word community. Apartheid dehumanisation created inhumane living conditions and we are still dealing with the repercussions of this crime against humanity. Ironically, it is apartheid that was uncivilised as it intentionally disorganised civil society. Although the removal of the oppressive system has been implemented legally. Socially, we still live in a divided society and an uncivil, civilisation.

photo by Heather M Edwards

So, we need the return of a humane, humanity. Where we see ourselves within each other, that another person is not a separate entity that I am disconnected from. But that you are another myself. I think when we change our perspective to this, we will naturally uplift ourselves and one another. No one enjoys living in fear and mistrust. Building higher walls, gating neighbourhoods, erecting electric fences and setting alarms is a short-term solution for a long-term problem. Paradoxically, increasing private security is not going to create the desired sense of safety. You still feel vulnerable to violent crime within your guarded home.

Inequality is the known instigator of violent crime. Everyone needs to contribute to the economic development of South Africa; however, the high unemployment rate puts the burden of this task, on employed people.

How are we to address inequality?

I don’t have all the answers but I know that love is the answer to our cries of distress. We need to heal from the past, love our children, all of them not just the ones from your home, or neighbourhood. The adults who are walking around broken committing these violent crimes, need to choose for themselves to heal internally, and unify their thoughts, actions and intentions with love. This is the true meaning of empowerment. When you are in alignment with love, everything in your life shifts for the better. The government is not going encourage self-empowerment cause then they will lose voters who are relying on the government to empower the community.

“The miracle is this, the more we share, the more we have”

Leonard Nimoy

So, altogether as individuals we need to address inequality this is quote in mind. We need to find work that is both empowering to oneself and the community at large. Dedicate our lives to this mission, and I know this will create personal happiness and the harmonious community we all want to live in.

Photo by Sidharth Ba

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