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Cry, the beloved country, we can’t go on like this


The past is gone, the future is to come. We have the gift of today. But it’s not pretty at all.

I took a walk down memory lane at a concert celebrating the music of the Swedish supergroup of the 1970-80s.

I came away dripping with nostalgia and a maudlin longing for those days when I was half as old as now.

The cohesive ethos for the 5000-seater audience was our nostalgia for those days that were. We were unified in our misty-eyed memories, aware that the clocks were ticking. We sang with one voice: thank you for the music.

We have moved on since those heady years going back more than four decades. Why anoint the past with incense that has lost its bouquet?

We came away from a few hours of mutual bonding based on memories. We woke out of our haze to the reality of a country that isn’t well, that has lost the 1994 patina of optimism.

Everything is leaking away: natural resources, assets, the will to recover, the plans for improvement on so many fields.

The past has gone. The future is still to come. But we have the gift of today. That is why it is called the present. But it is not pretty at all.

It is time to wake up and find more areas of cohesion such as we felt during the Abba concert, or at the first free elections. It is the same unity we feel during success in sport at national level.

We share the feeling that the country can still be saved with so many young people who have again demonstrated fortitude and promise during last year’s matric exams.

Quoting Thornton Wilder in The Ides of March: “The thoughts and actions of those who awaken to the fact that they have been duped are painful to themselves and dangerous to others.”

The ANC is erroneously labelled the “ruling government”. But they are not equal to the task.

They must attend some soul-cleansing gathering where category-thinking is left at the door. We can’t go on with categories of race, gender, wealth, inherited or appropriated political advantage and all the other aberrations that have become our daily fare.

Internecine fighting, palace revolts, factionalism, are not signs of good governance or robust engagement. They are signs of fissure, fracture, failure. The most basic approach to any hopeless situation is contained in a simple word: help.

If our government would only stop the bus and rethink. Redefine. Ask why the available expertise is not sitting in the debating chambers. Many countries have done this and recovered. The will was always there.

As a famous prime minister in Britain exclaimed when colonialism was seen to be ending: “I will not chair the disintegration of the British Empire.”

Who is chairing the disintegration of this glorious yet ailing realm called South Africa?

Say the word: help.

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