/the power or right to act, speak or think freely/
/the state of being free/
If you are a moralist or an animal rights activist you can stop reading now for what I am about to tell you may cause you to have a fall out with me. Growing up in the eighties I had a privilege during some of the summer to spend time in Ga-Rankua. In case you are not well travelled and have not heard about that lovely place Ga-Rankua is situated north of our capital city. It was during the time when that area together with Mabopane and Soshanguve fell under the Mangope government – Boputhatswana which was a Bantustan.
You are still reading I see, good, it’s either you have a knack for curiosity likened to that of Alice In Wonderland or you really are after the details to brand me an immoral agent. Let me not interrupt myself further and get back to the story I was about to tell you.
During the summers spent over there my cousin, who is older by a few months, and I used to go pigeon and bird hunting with sling shots in the unsettled areas near the neck of the mountain that brushes MEDUNSA’s nape. After obtaining our quarry we will settle down under a tree and roast the chunky birds. Such was the pleasure of sharing the scanty meat between us as we related to each other our past school terms experiences. When the hunt was not so good we amused our self with capturing insects such as locusts, ladybirds as well as dragon flies. But what I want to get at here, especially now that I have moved below the food chain to the insects, is the force with which the insects fought back when one snatched them to put them in a tin or a glass jar. For your information the glass jar was the best observatory chamber. We provided some leaves to eat for the insects while they were under quarantine.
The cheer force with which the stink bug or the locust would fight you gave off such a sensation of might in the palms of your hands yet one recognised that the insect also exerted a form of power to which if there was a loss of concentration in your palms it would escape and regain its freedom. It would be very difficult when you loose a dark green locust amongst the greened shrubs as it was camouflaged immediately due to its cloak.
It is only later that one understood what those insects were fighting for when we caught them. They fought for their right to be free and go on living. Although our amusement centred on curiosity it had without doubt exerted fear and mayhem when the insects lost limbs or were impaled in the process of our exploits and they for their survival. I can’t even begin to lament the plight of the birds which were destined for our potbellies.
Freedom, what is it? If you take this little story, morals aside, you can read freedom in the faces of the curios little boys who explored the quasi veldt as they removed and explored each veil of reality. You could see the plight of the insects and the birds as that for freedom as a little rock clanked a dainty skull to oblivion or stinking bug finding itself trapped in a glass jar with prickly poking eyes prying on it, anticipating its next move.
But in entrapment there is no movement, there is no freedom. Each year when we celebrate freedom day in our country we need to ponder what s it we are celebrating. Simply because we are now in an administration that is black and outrightly democratic and not apartheid it does not mean that all is well.
Take a look at the uprising in the township concerning service delivery. Take a look at a little boy or girl who is being abused by an uncle, biological father or a step father or a step mother and ponder the mechanics of freedom for the next generation. Take a look at young people knocking on doors looking for opportunities which are next to zero. Take a better look at a wife who has to take care of her homestead alone because her husband is without work and there are the children to think about; recognize that she might lose her employment due to the economy that has spiralled out of control and as a results the middle class have found their comfortable lifestyle thwarted beyond their reach.
The first leg of our freedom was for Africans in this country to be recognised as human and equal to whites. And we did it with flare because no white person was chased away. Or laws established for revenge sake. Instead our leaders invited them to build a new nation which would be based on inclusion, the so called Rainbow Nation. If this inclusion was that of being recognised as human it should’ve been superseded by economic inclusion in the wider aspect of our society. It is now this latter inclusion that must be negotiated. And that is what afflicts our people. The ordinary man may applaud the episodic epic of the centre of powers’ youth leg arguments along the paradigm of economic inclusion for all in our own time. The lack of appeal for the youth leg of the centre of power to the intelligentsia was due to lack of flare plus their aggravating threats to the comforts of democracy. This has underscored the present discourse. You can wave economic inclusion aside but it looms before you like a threatening bad weather.
What we are learning here is that economic inclusion cannot be attained if the majority of our nation is without work and our education is in shambles. The question that incessantly chips in is, why any nation, South Africa in particular, raises the cost of living if a few people are able to get by? Are we not sawing the seeds of an economic uprising likened to what we have witnessed in the northern hemisphere recently? We surely are on that path. Unless if the elites acknowledge that for us to be affluent they will have to re-inject the wealth of this country back to its people before they live lavishly whilst a pool of poverty hovers around. This re-thinking will take much sacrifice inherent in sharing which in a dog eat dog world it’s just a faint ideal discouraged immediately when it make its presence felt.
© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong
27 April 2012