Updated: Jul 13
Earlier posts have detailed my childhood and how sheltered I was brought up. Specifically, my parents kept the tentacles of apartheid very far from my brother and I. [Read: https://biancassmith.wixsite.com/biancagoodson/post/what-we-can-learn-from-plants]
I don’t write this as a person who struggled during apartheid because I didn’t. However, I am aware of this country’s history and the trauma that it caused many people and generations that followed.
The thing about our past is this … when do people stop using it as a crutch?
What I know to be true is that the generation that felt the impacts of apartheid most, still live today and they are dwindling out… my generation at most experienced 10 years and yes, perhaps the worst years of apartheid. We experienced the end of it. Following the end, we experienced the fighting between the IFP and the ANC and it was brutal!
I am forty. Can I truly say that I “lived” through apartheid considering that I was fourteen when it was abolished?
People like Julius Malema make me laugh because he was not destroyed through apartheid… he is roughly my age which means that the bulk of his life thus far has been in a democratic country. Why then does he consistently blow this horn of the past when he cannot speak from first-hand experience beyond the age of about fourteen? Have the veterans of the struggle appointed him as a spokesperson? Has our generation? Last I checked, his lifestyle of LV and Gucci does not reflect my tenure in this country nor the veterans…
I see him as a person who simply is jumping on a bandwagon of sorts. The narrative works – it induces anger and a variety of emotions that could be justified by our past, but certainly not by the people chanting the song! And I guess that is the point of this blog.
Can people own their own shit, please?
Can the cadres and veterans own their trauma and acknowledge that perhaps it has harmed their ability to lead commercial assets of this country?
Can my generation own that they did not struggle “their whole lives”?
Can we all stand up and say that its time we look forward and not back?
Can the future South African leaders please stand up?
This brings be back to the issue of cadre deployment in our country… I can not profess to know what a cadre is, so I goggled it.
The appropriate definition is: “a group of activists in a revolutionary organisation".
This I know: the ANC was revolutionary because if it was not for their determination and actions, apartheid could very well still be in place in this country.
But then I don’t understand “activist” … google says that it is “a person who campaigns to bring about change” … okay cool.
So I understand “cadre” to be a group of people campaigning for change…. In pragmatic terms this refers to people who were active in ending apartheid and making our country a democratic state. I think I got it …
Going back to history books, I know that many people who were activists and or cadres were exiled from this country. As a trauma survivor myself, I empathize that this must have been crazy! Can you imagine the trauma of having to be forced from your country whilst trying to fight for it? I imagine that its similar to my custody battle for my daughter, but worse. My point is that it was traumatic.
Then there were cadres who were not exiled, remained here and became victims to police brutality. Again, trauma.
My question to the readers is this: is it possible to have cadres who did not experience trauma? I believe that for the most part, many of them experienced trauma and probably still have trauma triggers today.
As a victim of trauma this I know that it never goes away. If you are lucky, it simply becomes easier to live with and even then, if you can carry on a normal life, you will always be susceptible to the triggers.
The worst thing about trauma is that it alters your perception – you become incapable of seeing things objectively because every trigger induces the fight / flight or freeze response. You always feel threatened and behave as such.
Let’s go back to the narrative, you have cadres. Some exiled and some not. They experience trauma. In the midst of the trauma they are exposed to support, additional educational opportunities and hopefully, safety. However, their country is burning and the trauma triggers are probably in the news frequently. They carry on with their lives and they remain alive, but traumatised. This doesn’t take away from their skill set and determination to fight apartheid. They are a group of both skilled and unskilled individuals who find themselves in a revolution.
Then we have our first democratic elections and the country changes over night. Opportunities that never existed before for the majority of the country, are now available. The ruling party employs this idea of cadre deployment within the public sector….
You know what happened? We took people, although competent to fulfil the role, they were traumatised still and had the keys to some of the most strategic assets that our country has.
Their state of mind was not necessarily clinically diagnosed as been rational, yet they filled these key positions under the “cadre deployment” umbrella of loyalty.
I follow the Zondo commission in earnest and recently a Ms Mokoyane has given evidence before the commission and put bluntly, she pleads ignorance to corruption. My argument is this: she could be ignorant, but it could also be the truth!
How does a country like South Africa expect traumatised individuals to have the right perspective to make the right decisions for the collective whilst they are still in a traumatised state? Once a person has survived deprivation, is it not Maslow who stated that human behaviour is such that you want your basics needs met first? So, suppose you are stuck there? You are stuck in the holding pattern of “I need more”, NEED been the debatable word here…. If you never received trauma therapy, what is the likelihood that you would ever leave that holding pattern?
I know that for me, without two years and counting worth of therapy, I would still be stuck in my traumatised holding pattern of fear….
Jacob Zuma does not shock me anymore. He approaches state capture from a perspective of entitlement – I believe that he believes that he was entitled to self-enrichment. And the motivation of this view could be justified by a loss that he experienced during apartheid and by those that he valued… honestly and in his mind, he is right. And who are we to say that he is wrong?
Well, rationality and legislation make it clear that he is wrong, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that, in my opinion, he is one of those traumatised cadres who never got the right help to correct their perspectives. It’s a clinical condition.
The democratic South Africa failed in making these ill persons a president and placing them in positions of budgetary influence.
My question to the readers of this blog is simply this: when will it stop?
We should value our veterans and cadres for the sacrifices that they have made for our freedoms. But are they capable to lead beyond the struggle? Are they capable to innovate and progress us to the status of a first world country? Do cadres appreciate the value of frugality with public finance? and if so, what does frugal mean to them? an Aston Martin? a fire pool?
If we vote for an alternate opposition like the EFF, is it a younger version of the past because clearly the EFF did not ‘survive’ apartheid – they don’t know what they are talking about from first hand experience. The ANC wont change … they are too old. The DA is focused on in-fighting and imploding… now what? Emigrate?
I think that its time that young South Africans step up and express their individuality that reflects this country.
I say – no more traumatised people in positions of power.
It’s time for the new, peeps.