On Oscar Pistorius and South African Society

Mzansi Afrika woke up to very unpleasant news this morning*. I myself was just within earshot of a TV but too far to hear all the details: “Shot… Dead… Oscar Pistorius…” It took me minute or so to find the story that had just broken on Google News. The Sowetan put it this way online: “Oscar Pistorius shoots girlfriend”. He had allegedly mistaken his girlfriend for a burglar. Regret and something that seemed like a depressing sadness started to sink in as I realised how much I didn’t want to read about this kind of story.

My heartfelt condolences to Pistorius and the bereaved families and friends – I pray for you strength.

This is not the first time we hear of such a tragic story – I doubt it will be the last – but it has now highlighted an issue I have long believed about South Africans. We do not trust each other – we are too paranoid. My point will be aided by a simple question: Why?

As much as crime will be blamed for this terrible incident, the fault is on us. Rather than tackle the problem of crime head-on by giving each other enough reason & encouragement not to engage in criminal activity, many of us have chosen to complain about Governmnet and spend enormous amounts of money on perceived security: high walls, electric fences, alarm systems, firearms… We have chosen to literally imprison ourselves. This is how we deal with most of the issues that plague our beautiful country, because we have fear.

Fear is what causes us to be inhumane to one another, what makes us reach for a few banknotes when the arm of the law hangs over our head, what convinces us to pull the trigger on the silhouette of a loved one. But it is we who allow ourselves to be governed by it.

Maybe we jail ourselves in fancy fortresses for good reason. After all, ours is a nation guilty of the worst crime against humanity: we have failed to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. This is why we serve life-sentences in our own homes.

Yes. The real problem is within. It is in the values we have failed to learn and the dignity we have failed to give each other. Only when we get these things right, will the issues that curse our country start to lift.

I must also make mention of one more issue – abuse within relationships has also reared its head in related news reports and talk amongst people. Nonku Ndlovu writes about this and other mattes on her blog http://nonkusays.blogspot.com/

Z.

*Written 14 February 2013

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2 Responses to On Oscar Pistorius and South African Society

  1. Robin says:

    My friend there is a very simple answer and it stems from fear. How does one over come fear? It is by reaching out. When one fears it is a phobia, so one could argue that we have Crimophobia. Which is truly warranted. Now to get to the solution. We need to step out of our boxes, make ourselves vulnerable and confront issues in this wold. HELP others and give back to society. People appreciate help, they appreciate assistance and you giving your time to give back. if ALL of us did so we would better understand what is going on around us, what causes crime and why it is not something necessarily to be feared but something to be solved. We live in a society filled with desperate people who need support not judgement. We judge criminals daily for their conduct but we dont take the time to understand why they do what they do and then finding away to combat that. We speak from the HIGH THRONE, as you said of blaming it on education, values and terrible living conditions. They are the broad social issues we need to combat and they certainly contribute to crime, but it also goes down to the individual story that we tend to neglect. Why are not setting up community centres and volunteering at them, I believe that solutions lies in dropping the walls, yes it sounds crazy but its the only way to connect. To drop the walls and to get out there, get dirty and show that you are a contributor to society in more ways than one. Making a salary and buying necessities helps the economy but that does not help the person who will likely turn to crime in a couple years time…… We need to encourage graduates to go out and contribute to the communities that need it most and to let them learn about the world we live in. Stereotypes and an us vs them mentalities towards society and crime helps no one. Its by challenging those believes that one reduces fear and increases the humanity in peoples hearts.

    “Fear always springs
    from ignorance.”
    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

  2. uzanokuhle says:

    Beautifully said, my friend. Beautifully said. Now to put it into action!

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