It has been an incredibly turbulent time in recent weeks. Quota this and transformation that. Fikile Mbalula lambasted for his ineffective actions as the Minister of Sport in South Africa. I see article after article addressing race, fair opportunity and the lack of equality in sport. Here, I shall give my personal opinion which will be as objective as possible. I open myself up to criticism for it too and wish that those who choose to read this acknowledge such.
First and foremost, just to get it out of the way! Have the ANC done all that they possibly can to address inequality in sport as efficiently as possible since 1994? I think not, but that is not my point.
Yes, it is the responsibility of the leadership to ensure that transformation takes place, but their numbers are limited in comparison to the millions of South Africans which live in this beautiful country. Transformation is a necessity in order for this country to make any progress, whether we like that or not. It is not the intention to limit competition or to place preventative measures on anyone but rather to create an opportunity for someone that would not otherwise have had it due to our oppressive history. We, as white South Africans need to show that we want transformation to happen, not fight against it but encourage it. Feeling threatened by attempting to better the lives of others who are mostly less fortunate than yourself? Yet you still want progress and a first world lifestyle in South Africa?
I am sick and tired of hearing white privilege, but I will never deny it. Despite the fact that my parents worked for what our family has, that was because they were given the opportunity to fulfil their potential unlike many of the non-white parents of my contemporaries. This in essence makes it difficult for them to break out of this cycle of being disadvantaged.
There are so many people who constantly spend time critiquing politicians, yet what are you doing to alleviate the inequality in South Africa? What are you doing to change the lives of those less fortunate than yourself, forever? White people need to use their privilege in order to uplift and give back instead of being gluttonous and ignorant. As a lecturer recently pointed out in a lecture I attended “The more you (white people) publicly fight against transformation, the stronger you make that stick with which the politicians will hit you back with”. Stop, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “What am I doing to make a difference to the millions of impoverished people in South Africa?” Despite the scale of your actions you are able to bring about change. Take for example the ‘Starfish Event’ (https://eventsforchange.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-starfish-story-one-step-towards-changing-the-world/ ) which shows us as individuals that we are making a difference despite it seeming so insignificant.
The way in which we are able to see for ourselves what exact circumstances we are trying to change is by actually going there. Go to Khayelitsha. Go to Soweto. Go to Mdantsane. Go to the rural Transkei. And go to Nkaneng. By being in the presence of those affected each and every day, you are able to feel and see the environment for yourself. It is not about feeling sorry for anybody. It is about realising the need for you to engage your skills and wealth in order to create a better life for those individuals which you see. By donating a large lump sum to a charity from behind your office computer can help, but you are still not engaged with what is going on. It needs to be tangible, for both you and the person who is being assisted. There are many NPO’s and NGO’s which allow for you to physically engage with communities that you probably are not even aware exist. These people give you the opportunity in volunteer work. The volunteer work should merely be a stepping stone for you to continuously assist in your private capacity.
There is an NPO which was founded recently by a group of youths in the hope of delivering a better education to young, underprivileged South Africans. The representatives of the NPO are represented by a diverse group of forward thinking individuals who, on the most part, have come from previously disadvantaged homes. In this specific instance I would like to refer to a director within the NPO, Mr Xhanti Mahlangeni. I had the privilege of speaking with Xhanti (22), also known affectionately as Ta X and X-Man (the latter, a whole new debate for another day). Xhanti has come from a background of previous disadvantage. His parents gathered all that they could in order to fulfil the minimum school fee requirements for his education and furthermore he got into an institution of tertiary education. The young man from Vega School of Brand Leadership is working hard outside of his studies in order to ensure that underprivileged learners do not have to go to the lengths which he did (and few get the opportunity to) in order to get the same quality of education which Xhanti did. The Born To Be Free NPO has already supplied at least 20 of 40 computers to West End Primary School. This gentleman and his team are young and motivated, this is despite the adversities which they have and still will face. Now, do you really think you still have that ‘excuse’ lined up?
It is not the sole responsibility of the government to ensure that transformation takes place, but even more so, it is the people on the ground too. Everybody has got to be committed to transformation if it is to take place. This country will one day stop speaking of equality and realise what we really need is equity, look up the difference and maybe you’ll understand.