Walking Together

On Wednesday 9th June 2010, we experienced one of the most unifying moments in the country’s history. Across the country, people gathered in common areas at 12am to blow their vuvuzelas, sound their hooters in honour and celebration of Bafana Bafana in preparation for the FIFA World Cup. We all know that Bafana is ranked 83rd in the world, and is a midget against giants such as Brazil and Portugal, but we as a nation still gathered in unison, waving our flags for no reason other than the fact that they are our national team. The motivation of knowing an entire country was behind them was an inspiration to the team, pushing them to go beyond what they thought they could achieve. From 2008, a group of South African citizens from all sectors of society came together to form what was known as the Dinokeng Scenarios. These were three different scenarios that the country could potentially end up in, based on certain variables. These variables were: Walk Apart, Walk Behind, and Walk Together. The Walk Apart scenario arose from a dysfunctional government and a disengaged public. This results in groupings formed taking independent control of different sectors of society, an increased gap between government and the citizens, and potentially civil unrest. The second scenario, Walk Behind, describes a situation where government assumes the role of leader and manager, and there is increased central control and state intervention. This results in increased authoritarian control by the state. The third scenario, Walk Together, occurs where citizens are actively involved with government in the running of the country. It results in increased engagement, transparency and accountability required from both government and citizens. This unified engagement of both government and citizens is what has been evident during the World Cup. We have developed a culture of expecting everything from the government and doing nothing but criticizing them. This disengaged, inactive citizenry does nothing to build a country, and masks itself as engaged intellectual discourse. We become armchair critics, assuming the role of academics who know how a perfect country should be run, and before we even attempt to understand the rationale behind decisions, we are quick to judge those decisions as wrong. An engaged electorate becomes involved in building a nation beyond putting a mark on the ballot. This involves becoming part of government programs, and forming more public-private partnerships to advance the economic and socio-economic standing of the country. More accountability and transparency will be required, because more ownership will be taken by more sectors of society. More constructive criticism will be offered where governmental and private institutions fall short, and more praise and honour given where they do well. This is an ideal, but ideals are what we should reach for, so in falling short, some progress is still made. After South Africa defeated France in their final World Cup match, there was still celebration despite being knocked out of the tournament. There was still a unity, a bond, and a support for the national team. Let us as a nation carry this through to other areas of our society, from education to housing, from commerce to health. Let’s be a citizenry that builds the country by walking together.

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