Thirteen of us wrote an open letter to President Jacob Zuma last week asking him to resign. It was first published on The Daily Vox, and then republished just about everywhere. Did he read it? I doubt it. Do we care? Not really.
I’m being glib, but I was asked by print and radio journalists “Who is this group?”, and “Why should Zuma listen to you?” Sure. I get it. After all, bigger names have spoken out against him.
The first question is easy to answer: We are the sons and daughters of the African soil. We are citizens of this continent. We are a network. We are friends. We are change-makers. We are “Africa’s future”, to spin a cliché. Nobody needs to legitimise our voices before we speak, before we are heard.
The second question I answered like this: The purpose of taking a stand — marching in the streets or writing letters from our homes — is about positioning ourselves on the right side of history. It’s about us, actually, how history will remember what we did when doing something — anything — was needed. We want the historical record to reflect that 13 of us spoke out, took a risk, put our names to a letter, called out the president, spoke to his humanity, and asked him to dig deep and do the right thing.
Will he read it? We don’t know. If he did, will he listen? We don’t know. Again, that decision is not about us, it’s about him. We wrote to his conscience.
The price of a robust democracy is eternal civic vigilance. All of us, not some of us, must pay it.