We all have our tomorrow-day meditations. It is a given that we all have hopes and dreams and had made plans today to reach them tomorrow. Plans are tightly knitted with change. It is through the tracing of change that we will be able to acknowledge whether our tomorrow day is feasible or not as we have envisaged it.
What is the yardstick of measuring change then? The yard stick can be located in one’s historical heritage. History becomes an invaluable tool when pitted against the present. One needs to just cast an open eye if not one’s mind into the past in order to critically evaluate whether change has taken place. With such a tool as history at hand then we can talk about progression or stagnation. However the deliberation upon measuring change should be critically inspired, it is an activity that one should be impartial when unearthing or discerning progression or stagnation and not to be defensive to the results yielded otherwise the activity, should it undermines the search for truth, will automatically be rendered banal.
The results that may be yielded by the inquiry may be undesirable should the one who is involved in the activity of historical inquiry be aligned with the left or right of those who are the dominant forces in the society being evaluated, a society to which the inquirer may or not belong to. For what else is the point of historical recordings if they do not serve the purpose of helping us evaluate our present stance in the greater scheme of things, in revealing our true nature as it is?
Reiteration: It is arguable that Humanity is bound by change and change itself has as its substratum the concept of time. And the events that humanity partakes in are demarcated by the concept of time itself. Henceforth time frames, marked by prominent occurrences, are used as outlines in demarcations of historical periods in the scrutiny of the history of a society par excellence.
Now when a Society takes a peep at its past and isolates a particular event that has had a remarkable impact in the lives of people belonging to its social structures and opts to celebrate that event by honoring those who have partook in it, that society is unwittingly, doubly so knowingly, assessing itself anachronistically. I use the words ‘unwittingly’ and ‘knowingly’ as an attempt to remind us that some members of societies are overtaken by pronouncement of vital periods or occurrences through media or while conversing with their peers or colleagues, even families they are made self aware of their historical heritages.
Time and its meaning differs from person to person, from culture to culture as well as from nation to nation. It is the context within which time is experienced that differs, otherwise time goes on whether it is acknowledged or not. I herewith propose to offer simple illustrations to make sense of what I mean by the difference in meaning of time as far as context is concerned. The following illustrations ought not to be taken as universal due to the abundance of frame of references in the social sphere.
The meaning of time to those who are ruled
To someone who is unemployed we can argue that time experience is different because they have no pressure of deadlines to adhere to nor do they look forward to their payment to services rendered since they render none. What we can agree to is that the unemployed wish to have to worry about the responsibilities that come with the rendering of services provided since, granted an opportunity to be part of a workforce, they will be compensated for their trouble per output and the standard of their livelihood would be much better. The unemployed masses of any nation look at those in power to help their efforts at achieving the livelihood of being active in their society. More often they are not a passive segment of a society which relies on handouts. The basis of human existence is self resilience and it should not be underestimated that major segment of any nation is endowed with it. Henceforth their support to political parties, which are well packaged ideological pockets who seem to be having their best interests at heart.
The meaning of time to those in midway
Here simply the opposite applies. To someone who is part of the working force of a society time is undoubtedly experienced differently in that they have to adhere to deadlines as far as the output of the work that they are employed to do is concerned. They have to be answerable to their actions as far as their work is concerned, answerable to whomever who has employed them for their skills.
To the employer or those in power; time is important for them to produce whatever it is that they must produce for they benefit from that production monetarily.
In this illustration we see that the area of demarcation between those in power and those who are in the employment of those in power is reduced to a certain degree so that the contact between the two is marginal.
At least contact with power does exists, as opposed to the ruled who has no contact whatsoever with those in power unless the rulers make themselves accessible to the ruled. More often this segment of the society’ support to political parties is readily pronounced.
The meaning of time to the centre/ to those in power
By the word ‘centre’ here, we mean that point of arrival where control of those who are in subordination is coordinated and regulated by those who are in power to achieve their desired goals. The desired goals of those in power may be implied or specified, depending on the agenda of the ‘centre’. Corporations, Associations, Clubs, Political Parties and, over and above, the State (Government) are acute examples of what the centre is. While this definition is by no way one highway of describing the power structure relation, as already stated a few paragraphs ago – above, here we wish to delimit it to this sense for the brief interrogation we are about to submit it to.
We have stated in simple terms that change is assessed anachronistically/historically and that our vehicle to discern change is the concept of time. We have pointed out, indirectly that when a society co-opt to celebrate a particular moment in its historical recording it is engaged in comparative analysis of itself in terms of past vs. present. The co-option of celebrating particular events locked in the history of a society is sanctioned by the Centre.
The Centre makes arrangements well in advance to celebrate milestones in the social sphere where they are situated. Through its public interactions with those whom it regulates, the ruled and those who render its functions, the Centre is able to forecast the coming of such celebrations to the society. Should the Centre then not be able to see to it that the masses buy into the ideal to be celebrated, then it will not be in tune with the masses who acknowledges its power of control. Then Centre will cease to hold ground and will collapse. What then is the significance of celebrating the historical milestones of a society if they are lacerated with risks of fallout?
The answer is undeniably the fact that in order for the Centre to re-impress itself upon the masses concerning its validity to continue to hold ground it has to continuously revisit the past of the society it is situated in, it must remind who that society is. Thus the co-opted milestone to be celebrated at any time frame in the lifespan of any nature of a society should resonate across all spheres of the society in question. Here then we get a sense that the scrutiny of what is to be venerated should be carefully selected.
Example: In our Republic – the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, 22 & 23 January 1879. The Anglo-Boer War, 11 October 1899 to May 31 1902. The enforcement of apartheid, 1948 – 1994. The Group Areas Act of 1950. The Women’s March August 9, 1956 and the Sharpville massacre of 21 March 1960…(giant leap thirty years odd years or so)… the dawn of Freedom, 27 April 1994, will be forevermore acknowledged. It is a triumph over human evil that resonates throughout the globe. 1976, June 16, it is a Tsunami that sent warning tremors to the state apparatuses of the latter-day apartheid system’s fragility. Like all these events above it drew world attention to this republic. So is the 20 years celebration of Madiba’s release from Prison early this year, so is the 100 years anniversary of the centre in two years to come.
These firm stepping-stones, ranging from resistance through defiance and liberation, sampled anachronistically are the yardsticks to assess change. It is through them that South Africans will always evaluate change in this country. And it is through our collective yardsticks that the world assess change in the Republic of South Africa.
The question then that the Centre needs to meditate upon is how long shall its validity to rule, control and acknowledge the ruled hold? If the centre does not ponder upon this question it would have lost the plot altogether – which is its key function. Knowing the plot. Knowing what has happened and why. Knowing the stage at which the ruled society is at and the aspirations that that society anticipate to achieve.
With the Centre’ loss of Plot the ground shall have been prepared for the Neo-Struggle. Let it be known that the moment the Centre ceases to be a reflection of those it purports to uphold the interest of, it acquires a state of banality, and meaning for the ruled society ought to be sought elsewhere, albeit through an untying effect called – Revolution.
21 February, summer
© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2010