Let us start with what makes me unhappy comrades. This undiscovered bridge called language or rather mother tongue. The life of the artist, poet, writer who communicates the eternal heartbeat of the people. The working class experiment. Anticipatory nostalgia for the past.

The fees must fall campaign that is wreaking terrifying havoc on campuses across South Africa. It’s not pretty close up, and does your mental health no good no good to think this way all the time. This is a generation defining itself. One look. Hours of silence. The youth has the talking stick now not the leaders that we voted into power.

The trouble is I’m afraid we have to talk about human rights before it becomes a crime.

For too long this country has been dominated by its leaders, the ‘death’ of the liberation struggle (that internal and external war, or both). We’ve been dominated by sacrifice. The ones with political power but we also have shunned the baton that was given to ‘us’, the people.

The undercurrent in today’s politics is that we either turn a blind eye or go about our business. It’s a frustrating, useless affair bringing back memories of the past. Echoing Sharpville. Countrymen, we are in this together. The milk and honey of the rich, and that includes the poor. The liberal, and the working class man, woman, and child raised in the poverty of that environment.

Countrymen, I call on all of you now to concentrate and focus on the good things in South African history. Democracy anchored us, the will of freedom gave us inner strength, the power of reconciliation back (it reconciled people of different races, faiths), the Born Frees, Madiba magic, reconciliation, the African Renaissance (a term coined by ex-president Thabo Mbeki), and the Rainbow nation.

It seemed to erase all of the negative aspects that followed in the wake of CODESA (Convention for a Democratic South Africa) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Let that become the anomaly rather than letting the broken be the anthem for what is wrong in society today. The individual still remains answerable to their wakeful conscience of the world around them.

The individual is the wheel. We decide what role negativity (that version of events colors the intellect, our daily lives, the psychological framework of our mind's eye, and its capacity to think, to curb the inflow/flux of ideas).

So does the issue of the mainstream media out there (social media networks especially). It also plays havoc in our lives. It is poison.

The public persona of our leaders in government only serves to demonstrate our thought processes (we put them into power). We haven't realised yet that the mighty vote is all-powerful. We can tell each other that till the end of time. We can tell each other that until we are all blue in the face.

We can say that we are still tarnished by the past but no one wants to live in the past anymore (it's going out of style), certainly not the youth of today but we have all been marked by the past. We have been under the spell of its sinister, suspicious ways. It hasn't declared all its damages (for example, emotional, physical) yet.

We are kidnapped by politics. Held hostage, but at the end of the day what remains is this. You direct your life, and it is a choice that 'you' must make everyday. We want to debate the political, its 'rehearsal', we want to maintain that life is a dress rehearsal, its drama but what remains, I repeat, what remains is family, communication (communication, connecting is profound but only once we start to accept each other, listen to each other, respect each other, and forgive), at the end of the day.

The reality is that the fury of the students at the universities must look like a complete nightmare to outsiders. The narrative is social cohesion. Sometimes we see glimpses of it, and when we do see it, experience it, our faith is somehow restored in that personal space of closure. How do we clean that mess up, how we now reconcile the past with the present. We must listen to understand, we must negotiate, tolerate inadequacies (but is the moral high ground, racism, and the discussion of social cohesion an inadequacy), and above all, we must forgive to move forward.

We must always concentrate and focus on the good things in South Africa's history. It has brought us thus far through centuries of tumultuous despair and hardship. We are only to talk, before realizing with great difficulty the great divide between black and white. The haves and the have nots.

The people who change the way they think change the world. Change the people around them. Transforming society.

We shouldn’t look at President F.W. de Klerk as being the last white president of South Africa. We already should be thinking of equality.

Times have changed but there has always been this struggle within all of us to show up guarded and circumspect in the relationships that we have with people from a different faith, culture, and race. It still feels like I am navigating through the dark waiting for that tunnel of light to appear that will lead me home. South Africa is home. We shouldn’t be living the way we live now.

We are living in fear. We are living as if we are a broken nation in turmoil. At the end of the day we are inspired by flesh and blood. Our ‘flesh and blood’. This nation still gives me hope. This nation, South Africa with its hills and mountains is my sanctuary. I believe in her people. I must. I must let go of her past. To move forward I must surrender, regret nothing.

South Africa is a harsh place to live for some. We have forgotten how to relate to each other on the most basic levels. What connects us I believe is family. The dreams and goals parents’ have for their children. (As a writer) what I do with all the sadness sending waves into explosion, and the rage that searches for exposure is that I feel at the end of the day is I need to write about it. This, this is my fight song and I have a lot of fight left inside of me, and we are in the majority in South Africa.

Abigail George

Abigail George is a feminist, poet and short story writer. She is the recipient of two South African National Arts Council Writing Grants, one from the Centre for the Book and the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council. She was born and raised in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape of South Africa, educated there and in Swaziland and Johannesburg. She has written a novella, books of poetry, and collections of short stories. She is busy with her brother putting the final additions to a biography on her father’s life. Her work has recently been anthologised in the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology IV. Her work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She briefly studied film.

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