Race. We are a nation obsessed with race. We pull the race card too quickly. Instead of celebrating matriculants who excelled, many have chosen to make it about race.
I have seen a flood of vitriolic comments on social media. A person of Indian origin is slapped with that all too common question – any links to the Guptas? Labels of White privilege and Black elitist also float around in this sea of venom.
People post such comments online with arrogance and engage in nasty debates, pushing personal boundaries. What then is the no-holds barred conversation likely to be within their homes and families? It scares me. It saddens me. These are the people who choose to cling onto race as if it their entire existence depends on it.
Perpetuating the “us” and “them” mentality in a 2018 South Africa is unforgivable.
No, I don’t have rose-tinted glasses. I’m not oblivious to what is happening in South Africa. If 2017 has taught us anything as a nation, it’s that corruption and abuse of power is being perpetuated by influential people across ALL race groups.
Attack the crooked politicians, shrewd business people and greedy tenderpreneurs if you must. But leave our children alone.
The matric class of 2017 is made up of born frees. They were raised in a South Africa that did not discriminate against them on the basis of race. What gives you the right now undermine their achievements on the basis of their skin colour?
This is their time to shine.
I watched the announcement of matric results and top achievers with a smiling heart. My heart cheered for every learner. I cried when all special needs learners were called up simply because their journey required more inner strength and dedication. And they rose to the task. I said a prayer for every matric learner too. Read my earlier piece here.
It’s clear that removing apartheid legislation alone cannot change people’s mindset. It’s clear that affirmative action and employment equity have not worked ideally. Rather than complain and spread hate based on race, let’s see things for how they really are. That South Africa is work in progress. That we need passionate citizens of all races to grow our nation.
I have faith in our born frees.
This faith was affirmed when I recently met a university student. She was born in South Africa, raised in London and moved back to South Africa with her family about ten years ago. I asked her if she missed London and the lifestyle there. She replied, straight away and straight from the heart, “What is there to miss? I missed this more! (pointing to the beach) South Africa has a better quality of life any day. ”
I was pleasantly surprised. At a time when many young South Africans are looking for the proverbial greener pastures overseas, here was a young person who was delighted to be studying and building her dreams in the land of her birth.
This is her home.
It’s her home just like it is that of every matric learner, high achiever or not, irrespective of race.
It is an anxious time for them. When the reality of their results sinks in, they have to strategise and plan their next step. And they have to be wary. As welcomed as it is, fee free higher education is not a magic wand for those who want to study further. Each institution only has place for a limited number. It will push many students to look for colleges. Every year, there are tragic cases of students and their unsuspecting parents paying thousands of rands to bogus colleges. Rather than using social media to attack students, adults need to be using the medium to help educate and protect students against falling prey to such scams. And from my experience reporting on this first-hand as a journalist, I can tell you that it happens to students of all races.
We have high hopes and high expectations of the youth, undoubtedly.
But, what do they expect from us? Surely, some guidance, support and not throwing the race card in their face.
Can they count on you?
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