I went to a talk tonight on Active Citizenship by Dr Mamphela Ramphele, at Kirstenbosch. It was for the launch of an interesting-looking book on how ordinary South Africans can make a difference. Some of the other speakers were a little arb - I had to do a lot of blackberry facebooking during a particularly long-winded anecdote about the National Union of Mineworkers' labour dispute with another union. But generally the idea was a good one: getting us off our arses, and transforming us from a nation of whingers to a nation of empowered citizens who uplift their own communities. She pointed out that we don't have any more baggage, for example, than Mozambicans, and yet they have made the decision to work towards a better future rather than moan about the past.
Two things stood out for me in what she said:
Firstly, we don't move on from our past because our post-apartheid amelioration system incentivises victimhood as a golden ticket for a free lunch.
Secondly, the vocabulary of 'delivery' has demobilised South Africans. We no longer do anything for ourselves because we expect houses to be 'delivered', jobs to be 'delivered'. It is absurd to expect the government to provide everything.
Where is our pride? Amandla awethu, my brothers and sisters :)