March 27 2012 at 10:20am
By Philani Mgwaba – The Mercury Independent Online.
All too often some of us get weighed down by the negativity of the hotheads in our midst and are prone to bouts of depression, wondering about the future prospects of this potentially great republic.
Regrettably, at times there is simply too much rancour and invective around for one’s continued good health and peace of mind – too much excitement of the wrong kind that’s not good for the heart.
One yearns for boring times, for the country to pull together and get on with it instead of engaging in stale, pointless debates – more like shouting and screaming – that don’t change anyone’s life for the better.
Amid the din, one tends to forget there are many good compatriots who in their own unsung way are making a huge difference in ways that really matter to their less fortunate fellow-beings. People who will make this country reach its potential.
Your scribe’s heart was warmed on reading in the Mercury this week the story of Umlazi school principal Bongani Nkosi and surfing star and businessman Shaun Tomson, who now lives in the US.
The newspaper told of how the pair had struck up a friendship in the 1970s that ultimately saw Tomson sponsor Nkosi’s education. Nkosi now has two degrees in education and is serving his community in a field of great need.
Tomson was at Nkosi’s school this week to give a motivational talk to pupils. It’s a wonderful tale.
There are many similar stories that go unreported. An executive who gets her friends to sponsor an orphan’s education.
A couple who adopt an abandoned child and raise him as their own. A family who builds their domestic help a decent home or pays for her child’s education at a good school. A farmer who mentors a less experienced neighbour.
It’s such deeds of humanity that make a real impact and uplift our land. It’s such acts that empower people, giving the recipients the tools to be independent and not cases of perpetual charity.
It’s such acts that will build a proud, free-thinking citizenry, not beholden to silver-tongued self-serving demagogues with their short-cut panaceas for our myriad complex challenges.
It’s the small deeds each one of us perform to better the lives of those less fortunate than us that hold the key to a better future. Not the entitlement brigade demanding freebies but who are not keen to break a sweat in return.
Experience has proved that only the best will do for some of our political masters and money is no object. As long as it’s your money that’s being spent, that is.
But our International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has scaled new heights. On a visit to Norway, she flatly refused to stoop to the level of the great unwashed by having her handbag scanned by airport security.
Citing diplomatic immunity, she would not let go of the bag and be treated like an ordinary passenger. Apparently there was much emotional shouting at security for their audacity, but they would not kowtow.
In a fit of pique, she opted to miss the scheduled flight and instead chartered, at your expense, a private jet at a cost of Rë 343. Makes you wonder why the Europeans and Americans give us millions of dollars in aid when we have so much dough we don’t know what to do with it.
And what was in that handbag, you wonder.
Jubilation that the ANC’s secrecy law (the laughably named Protection of State Information Bill) might be amended to include a public interest defence clause would appear premature.
It would seem the reason the ANC held back on submitting the bill for rubber-stamping by its MPs was to avoid embarrassing President Jacob Zuma, who was in the US to attend a United Nations meeting.
While there, Zuma glibly talked about the importance of open government, which he could not have done with a straight face had his party just passed a police state law that will shackle the fourth estate.
The reality is that his party is hell-bent on ramming through this odious law which will result in at least 15 years in jail for reporters who divulge state secrets even if such a revelation is in the public interest.
The logical conclusion is that the intention is to shield the corrupt from being embarrassed by an inquisitive press.