Stephanie KempIs it possible that we South Africans could be unscathed after 400 years of white minority subjugation, dispossession, humiliation and pain ? It was indeed a miracle that we staggered into democracy in 1994. It was a tragedy that in 1993 we had lost two great leaders, Oliver Tambo and Chris Hani.

President Mandela stood tall and helped us to understand how to move forward keeping the demons at bay. No one can deny that his successor, President Mbeki, worked very hard to help us into our continent, knowledge of which we had been denied until 1994. In those first years there were also serious attempts to transform the society and bring the majority from abject poverty to feel the new freedom.

But already there were the beginnings of voracious self-enrichment and change in the ranks of political organisation. Corruption took root. Politics became about individuals grasping to become rich and powerful. By the time Mbeki was got rid of there was little interest or political will to bring freedom to the people.

The poor tried to feel freedom by taking to the streets in cities and villages, lighting fires and throwing stones – to be heard, to try to gain a place in the freedom that remained beyond their grasp.

The leadership was silent, making its own nest.

They did not hear the people. Hope was lost.

Now there is only rage and pain.

Article by Stephanie Kemp


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