As November comes to an end, so too does another year. And with the onset of 2011, the new decade sets off into the distance with increasing speed. A decade that will be like no other in history. A decade that will be no different from the countless others that have preceded it. Ten years. Ten. What a significantly insignificant number. Who would have thought, at the dawn of the new millennium, that so much could have happened in ten years? The world shrunk a little bit in those ten years. Information – true, it is the Information Age – proliferated at a blinding pace, and still continues to do so. It became easier to be more clued up about what is happening in Burma (or is it Myanmar?) than what is happening in the township on the other side of the city. In another way, the world became more isolated too. The information overload helped cut us off from our neighbours. It would not be an over-exaggeration to say that some people know more about the political landscapes of many foreign nations than they know about their neighbours’ lives. It sometimes seems odd that we refer to the world as the global village when very little of the community ethos that informed life in the traditional village has influenced the way we relate to people from other ethnicities. No longer does it take a village to raise a child. Instead, the village would rather gather to burn the foreigner whose presence is an apparent threat to the community’s livelihood, even though the foreigner might be providing a valuable service to the community through their entrepreneurial activities. Why refer to them as a foreigner or makwerekwere in any case? How different to us so-called locals are they? It is not as though we were not once strangers in this land we now call home. We have quickly forgotten that, when Apartheid forced the many courageous activists who were involved in the struggle into exile, it was these same foreigners who opened their nations to us and welcomed us with open arms. Now, in their time of need, we bring out our pangas and dare them to set foot on our soil. What made us forget that your happiness is my happiness, and that your prosperity is mine too? Is the passing of the decades so bewitching that twenty years can completely obliterate our desperate days from our collective memory? This is by no means to say that the past decade has been a complete disaster. Not in the least. So much has happened that we can be proud of and celebrate. But as we symbolically cross another bridge (from one decade into the next), it is not a bad idea to take stock of where we have come from, where we need to improve, and where we are ultimately heading. Any nation can walk out of the door and wander aimlessly about. We are not any nation. We are the rainbow nation, travelling along a very specific trajectory towards a very specific destination. The Freedom Charter is a good place to begin in order to get a vision of where it is we are heading and what exactly it is we are supposed to look like when we reach that place. Unity in diversity is one of the traits we are to exemplify when we get there. The great thing about a rainbow is that it is against its nature to be discriminatory. Its very essence demands that within its body, difference is made beautiful. Both contrasting and complimentary colours find their home somewhere on its spectrum, and each contributes in their individual way to the glorious phenomenon that the rainbow is. In my mind, this is one of the best ways to approach community in the global village. Tolerance is no longer an option if true peace is to be achieved by international bodies such as the UN. No, we need to go deeper. We need to see each other for who we truly are and how we fit together in this life. The nation that gets this right will lead the world as the strands of our lives become more and more entangled with the passing of time.
- Death and Taxes
- Prison Gangs