By Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar

I am troubled by the machinations that I am subjected to on a daily basis by the ruling elite. This is not uniquely South African but rather it is the game that those in power seek to play in order to confuse, delay and complicate our lives.

I guess this cataclysmic shift, in my opinion, mirrors how our rainbow nation has been derailed by a few. I remember April 27 1994 as if it was yesterday and how I accompanied my family who, for the first time in their lives, were able to cast their vote in a new South Africa.

They were able to be part of this dream we were all so hopeful about. By voting they acknowledged their faith in this historic and victorious moment when faith, what was right, and hope towered over all the naysayers and what was so wrong (Apartheid categorically was an injustice to all South Africans!).

That dream lives on in all of us today, but South Africa seems to have lost its focus. The prize has slipped from our fingers. But it is not yet lost. Nothing is ruined if we are prepared to fight for it.

Democracy will live on if we are all prepared to take on the fight and no longer be subjects to the ruling elite but demand more and better from them. The hope in this idea is so powerful that on April 27 1994, millions of South Africans from all walks of life were prepared to make their voices heard.

Reality has crept in, mistakes have been made, politicians have lost favour (and some have gained ground). However, our work as a citizenry is far from over.

Casting a vote those many years ago has not alleviated our duty, but rather it should encourage us to move forward and, as Dr Mamphela Ramphele says, be citizens for social change.

For this reason, I pray every day for that dream to return. I hope for our dreams to be realised and for our nation to reach its full potential. Perhaps I thought that our freedom could give rise to our own sort of reformation, our own renaissance and the rebirth of that dream. But I still think that is possible.

I am aware that there is much to be disappointed in, including a crippling education system; escalating joblessness; political rhetoric which does not seek resolutions but rather acrimony; a judicial system which, from what I perceive, is under threat; a police force which is not above reproach; political interference in all spheres of society; and corruption. The list could be endless, but let us not focus on the problem.

These problems and issues are not unique to the South African landscape, and we should be mindful to keep perspective and not throw all reason and logic out with the window. Hope has not left us yet.

I recently returned to Cape Town after a weekend spent in the Free State which, for all intents and purposes, was very different to my “sheltered” perspective of growing up on the Cape Flats of Cape Town. I encountered certain prejudice (which runs throughout our country’s dialogue with itself) and I debated FW de Klerk’s views on apartheid, the homelands, and the new South Africa.

But what I was left with after this weekend was a palpable feeling of hope.

South Africa is a country rich with potential and I am tired of hearing the assessment and reviews of how we have reached a tipping point.

There is an abundance of hope and aspiration in the people of South Africa and it is us, the people of this country, that will forge forth with that dream. Those who regard themselves as the ruling elite will soon come to realise that it is not they who hold the power but, merely like an athletic relay, they hold just one part of the equation because not only are we the track, the manpower, the spirit and the heart of this nation, we are this nation.

Optimism and hope live on in all South Africans and it is without a doubt in my mind that I know the task is great, the risks extremely high, the tipping point close. But it is our collective efforts that will make this challenge effortless for we are the people that broke down the shackles of apartheid and oppression when the world thought chaos would ensue.

I look at the distractions put forward at the moment by the National House of Traditional Leaders which seeks to remove equality for all and rather replace it with what smacks of Animal Farm tactics, and the same is true for the Traditional Courts Bill which seeks to make 15 million South Africans servants in their own country. These are the distractions which not only upset me but give rise to the idea that people of principle must stand up and give voice to their principles and be the people of substance and stature that we know them to be.

So now is your opportunity to rise to the occasion and remind all South Africans that our dream lives on in all of us.

I believe in that dream still because there is still blood in my veins and a glow in my eyes. I see hope in the eyes of my fellow citizens and, for that reason, I continue to live on in the hope of a better tomorrow for ALL South Africans.

Andrew Ihsaan Gasnolar holds an LLB degree from the University of the Western Cape. He is currently pursuing his masters in law (broadly exploring the notion of sustainable shale gas mining in South Africa).


Mandela Rhodes Scholars

Mandela Rhodes Scholars

Mandela Rhodes Scholars who feature on this page are all recipients of The Mandela Rhodes Scholarship, awarded by The Mandela Rhodes Foundation, and are members...

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