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Our biggest downfall



“The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people” – Ghanaian Proverb Democracy is meant to be a simple and fair system. It is meant to work like a four-way system on our roads. For it to work, it requires principled and noble people. Not only that, but also a society that respects one another. The common thread is mutual respect. This is however, a commodity that is lacking in black communities and black societies in general. Why do I say that? I remember a time when I was at the University of Johannesburg a while ago. I was part of the first group that introduced a vision to merge the Rand Afrikaans University (RAU), Vista University (Soweto) and Wits-Technikon into one big mega university named the University of Johannesburg, now popularly known as UJ. Well, the merger had its difficulties more especially with phasing out the Afrikaans language and culture and introducing the English medium of instruction. This wasn’t an easy task at all because students had to be conscious of attending the correct lectures in the correct medium of instruction. For example, subjects in Bachelor of Commerce (B-Com) degrees would run simultaneously and conducted in English one lecture theatre and Afrikaans in another. It was a bloody mess. So I remember one time when I was attending an accounting lecture and I used to hate accounting. Our accounting lecturer was a young Afrikaans lady that struggled a bit with English. As you can imagine, it was quite unusual to see a white person that struggled to pronounce English words. Lekhooa le hloloa ke sekhooa. So, one time as she was trying to put a point across about debiting and crediting an account in English, the poor young lady tried to say, “does it sound familiar?” Unfortunately, she said, “Does it sound samiliar?” I guess it was a combination of similar and familiar. As you can imagine, the lecture theatre exploded into laughter when “we” (blacks) heard a “lekhooa” getting “sekhooa” wrong. Meaning a white person getting the English language wrong. But there was something peculiar about this laughter. Our fellow white classmates were all serious faced. So, I asked one white classmate who was sitting next to me whilst laughing out loud and said, “why aren’t you laughing? Don’t you find this funny?” He answered back and said, “Actually, not at all.” I said, “Why”. He said, “It’s just not in our culture to laugh at each other. It’s just not us.” Damet! You should have seen the shame on my face, whilst our people were still enjoying the last bits of their last laughter. This was an eye opener because I later learnt that the generation of students I attended school with were still firmly rooted in the Afrikaans culture and more so, from the Afrikaner Broederbond (Brotherhood). One of the guiding principles of the Afrikaner Broederbond is mutual respect. “We don’t laugh at one another.” That is the reason why the Afrikaner community has been so united over the years. They respect and support one another. There’s a famous Sesotho phrase that say, “Tšeou ha li tsoane” meaning whites will never betray each other. Moving on to the gist of the topic. As I was driving in Pretoria last week to a township named Mamelodi, I drove through a suburb named Brooklyn. There was law and order and traffic flowed in an orderly manner. My destination, Mamelodi Hospital, is located on the north-eastern side of Pretoria. On my way there I drove through a new commercial centre named Menlyn-Maine. This is the new “Sandton” of Pretoria. Similarly to Brooklyn, Menlyn-Maine is clean, there’s law and order. Then I got onto the N4 highway to Mamelodi. Upon arrival to Mamelodi, there isn’t a board that says welcome to Mamelodi but when you get there, you’ll know that, “now, I’ve arrived.” Chaos! Dirty streets and bad driving. But one thing that I quickly picked up is the lack of respect towards fellow motorists more especially black to black drivers. Ao Ntate, re kene ka bathong. As you can imagine, cars will be driven into the road onto oncoming traffic and that will be followed by an insult, “Fok!” Sometimes a vehicle suddenly stops in the middle of the road just for the driver to have a conversation with a pedestrian on the side of the road. Sometimes drivers in two different roads will drive slowly side-by-side having a conversation and causing a jam. These characteristics are unfortunately synonymous with areas in which black people live. You can go to Soweto, Thembisa or Motherwell in Gqeberha or Langa in Cape Town, the behaviour of Black people is all the same. Black people don’t respect each other. You can also come back home in Lesotho and find the same behaviour. Black people undermine each other, Ba tellana. The tragedy of all Black people. I’m sure we’ve all seen the chaotic events that take place at our intersections because of the dysfunctional traffic light systems? What causes this chaos? It’s because Basotho do not respect each other and as a result, they fail to observe the three or four-way stop rule. The three or four way stop system could work perfectly had Basotho people respected one another. The chaotic scenes at the intersection are a perfect example of what we’ve become as a society. A perfect example of a ruined nation. People that do not respect one another. Sadly, a lot of young and modern women have joined this choir as well. This behaviour of undermining each other has unfortunately affected even the national politics of both Lesotho and South Africa. Why do I bring South African politics into this equation? This come as a result of the latest developments taking place in the African National Congress (ANC). When President Ramaphosa took the reins of the ANC presidency, of which catapulted him to ascend to the highest office in the country, Ace Magashule was unfortunately not chuffed. He would refer to the President with his surname and say, “Ramaphosa” whenever he addresses the media. It would never be President Ramaphosa. When Ace Magashule first started with these antics of publicly disrespecting the president, I knew that it was the beginning of the end for the ANC. The end result has been a secretary general that undermines his president and defies the instructions of the National Executive Committee (NEC) Does this sound all too familiar? Yes, it certainly does. The chaos in our politics is caused by one thing: People that do not respect one another (Batho ba tellanang), Basotho are disrespectful. Just sit back and try to observe the trends in our politics. As a closing comment, I am always amused at how a Channel named Moja Love just exploded into becoming one of the most watched channels on DSTV. So, the philosophy of Moja Love is quite simple: To showcase the lives of ordinary black people in South African townships. However, this usually means airing dirty laundry on national television. There’s a show named Rea Tsotella which airs on television on Mondays at 21:30. The show seems to have hit a sweet spot because it touches on the things that black people love and that is to ridicule one another. On the contrary, white poor people never go to Rea Tsotella to air their dirty laundry or to tell the whole world of how irresponsible their husbands are. Or how useless the husband is (I need not elaborate where and how. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination). But yes, Black people love to hear the misery of other black people and it makes them feel good about themselves. In conclusion, God wasn’t wrong when he said love your neighbour as you love yourself. The principle of mutual respect is based on loving one another but most importantly, it starts with self-love. A lot of our headaches in our crazy political climate could’ve been avoided had we observed a principle of respecting and loving one another but we are here in the year 2021, self-distracting as a nation. Shame! ‘Mako Bohloa

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