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/
*Written 14 February 2013