I managed to convince a very close friend of mine to write an article so I could publish on my blog. I wanted to share his work with you guys so that you could also witness how much of a great writer he is, I really admire his work. Here it is:
We Should All Be Political Creatures
By Wiseman T. Zondi
Politics is really about power. How much power do you hold? How will you yield that power? Will you use that power in service of the people, or will you prop up your legacy in the name of self-interest?
These have been the motives behind every slogan, proposed policy, and election campaign ever devised. Particularly here in South Africa, where freedom fighters became political names overnight. One wonders, time and again, if “the liberation of our people” was the intended aim or if it was simply secondary to the self-enrichment of a German vehicle-driving elite. These are questions I ponder over daily. So much so that I’ve had an epiphany.
I now feel comfortable referring to myself as a “political creature”. This is not in the sense that I have now pledged allegiance to any one political party (I am, at least for the moment, content with assessing and comparing policies, mandates, and leadership styles…you know? Analysis).
I am a political creature in the sense that the discipline of politics now plays a central role in my life. I deem it important – no, essential – that citizens play a more active role in the governance of their country. This means fostering a culture of political literacy: knowing all the political structures, knowing how and where one leads into the other, and how, say, a “victimless crime” such as corruption negatively affects dozens of black poor people or how populism almost always brings the wolf of totalitarianism to political doors.
All in all, what there should be more of is a concerted effort to see how political decisions affect us as a country. The standard of education your children receive, the quality of the roads you travel on everyday, the price of the food and drink you survive on – these all have political elements to them. Ceding control to others, then passively complaining about the lack of service delivery given, is not only self-defeating. It’s downright dangerous.
Voting on election day isn’t the only avenue from which we can hold our leaders accountable. Petitions, e-mails and letters to your local councillors, actively starting NGOs – there are dozens of ways to introduce a new way of thinking about our communities, our towns, and our cities.
I, as a political creature, am committed to exploring as many of those avenues as humanly possible. If I am passive in my interest in the daily machinations of my society, then the powers-that-be will be active in looting and plundering resources meant for our people. It’s that simple (and that complex).
Without revealing too much of my personal political leanings, I will say that I am a liberal. I believe in individual agency and power. That is to say, I believe that one individual committed to social justice and substantive equality can do much in changing structures that limit and exclude the disenfranchised. The Constitution has afforded me such a right, and I am fortunate to live in a Rechstaat; a country where power lies in the Constitution instead of a sitting President.
The least I could do is help those who have risen to lead, and where no such leader exists, to be that leader. Perhaps that is the basis of being a political creature – a willingness to lead.
Do I propose that we all become political analysts, providing factual treatises of why your preferred party is the best or why the other party will usher in an era of neocolonialism? Not at all. But the importance of there being a South Africa of political creatures in a political culture cannot be overstated.
We need to watch various news bulletins, read various print media, and get involved in our communities, either through activism or through intellectual pursuits. We need more informed opinions, and sincere engagements with people who may or may not share our political affiliations, race, gender, sexual orientation or any other social construct out there.
As writer Malaika Wa Azania once noted, “my freedom is a result of the serving, sacrificing and suffering of many people, most of whom history books do not mention.” While the apartheid regime is dead and buried, its demons remain. Only political creatures will exorcise them.
To see more of my work, visit http://www.wiseman193.wordpress.com