Every country has its own identity, similar to how people have a unique personality, and just like a person, a countries identity can be shaped, moulded and altered over time.
A country's national identity is shaped by the collective way the people in the country treat each other. If generally, the way people in a country treat each other is kind, respectful and friendly, then that country to people visiting will come across as very warm and friendly.
So how do we at the tip of Africa treat each other, what is our national identity?
History And Identity
Many believe a countries history is its identity where history impact a countries identity. However, it's a countries choice if they allow their history to be part of their identity. A country can embrace its history or reject it and choose a different identity or completely forget its past referred to as historical amnesia.
A person growing up in a bad home with lots of violence and alcohol abuse will be affected by their childhood. As an adult, a person can let their childhood define and control their future or learn from it and choose a different path.
25 Years Later
Every day we see protests and anger as many poor South African's promised a better life after Apartheid today, more than 25 years later are still poor and struggling to survive.
Many people's feelings are very justified and valid. People feel betrayed by the promise of the rainbow nation. Many Black South Africans are still living in poverty and suffering, Coloured and Indian's are not black enough for BEE and White people still feeling blamed.
- Does anybody feel like they truly belong?
- Will our country still be divided by race another 25 years from now?
So what do we do about it?
How To Destroy A Nation
Countries have been rising and falling throughout human history, giving us plenty of examples of good and bad ways of running a country.
George Ayittey a Ghanaian economist and author of several books on Africa teaches us that there are patterns to how African countries destroy themselves that we can learn from.
One of these patterns is to exclude a group of people from the economy or to give a group fewer rights than another group. When you have such situations, at some point the oppressed rebel and fight back and as George describes it, they "blow up". The most extreme example of this would be the "Rwandan Civil War". Apartheid is a closer to home example of the same pattern, just in a different form.
Unfortunately, we are heading down that road of an unequal society again with race-based laws that rank and exclude different people from parts of the economy based on the colour of their skin.
Fixing the past is vital to our countries future, but history has proven it many times over. You can't fix race-based laws with more race-based laws.
Shared Goals & Working Together
People have been studying each other for centuries looking at such things as group dynamics, stereotypes and prejudices. A famous example of this was a series of experiments in the US during the 1950s involving young 11 and 12 years old boys in a fake summery camp that later become known as the Robbers Cave Experiments.
The boys were divided into two groups and made to compete for limited resources where there can be only one winner. Very quickly, conflict and friction started to increase, even leading to aggression and fighting. Then later the same groups were merged into one large group and participated in tasks with shared goals that could only be achieved through working together as a group known as superordinate goals.
Very quickly, the boys started to bond, the conflict and aggression dispersed. The boys started to like each other the more they worked together on goals that benefited the entire group. Physiologist call this Realistic Conflict Theory.
Does this not sound like something South Africa can learn from?
Management Sets The Tone
In any large organization or a company, the management decides the priorities and incentives. In doing so they also set the expectations that people in an organization are expected to meet, to be successful.
If management wants growth at all costs, they will get cutting of corners, back stabling and over time fading ethics, leading to morally questionable behaviour. If management wants the highest quality work, they will get it but most likely at the expense of time and costs.
Managers are responsible for the environment that people operate in, and a country is no different. If the rate of corruption in a government is extremely high, it is because the leaders of the government have created an environment where this behaviour thrives and is rewarded.
If we are experiencing escalating racism, anger and violence, it is because the government has created conflict situations. Where people are competing unfairly for resources or unfairly treating their people and pushing any blame onto different groups of people in society, deflecting from governments own failings.
If we want to build a strong country, a happy country, a safe and prosperous country we need to get our priorities straight and define the principles we stand for and measure choices against.
- Democratic accountability: When political parties and leaders do not perform or found to be corrupt, they are voted out.
- Constitutional rights: Every person has the same human rights in the eyes of the law.
- Equal opportunities: Everybody is free to compete equally based on effort and talent.
- Shared goals: Working together to improve our country should be rewarded and celebrated.
- The poor come first: Educating and uplifting the poor out of poverty has the highest priority.
- Free speech: The ability to criticizes the government without fear.
- Separation of powers: Government power should never be centralised in a way that can be abused.
- Rule of law: Everyone is equal and held accountable to the same laws, without exception.
The People Need To Fix Apartheid
The legacy that Apartheid left behind is a weight around the neck of our country that currently defines our nation. This scare on our country is visible everywhere in the form of extreme poverty, low skilled job seekers and the crimes people resort to, to survive.
Poverty born out of Apartheid is the foundation and strength that all Socialist ideas that threaten our Democracy stand on.
Fixing poverty is too important to leave to the government. All ideas, efforts and plans need to be focused on changing the situation of the poor through voter education. So the people can make better choices when choosing leaders and poverty upliftment and economic freedom.
If we had to halve unemployment, what do you think will happen to the crime rate? How big would that economy be? Helping the poor is in everybody's best interest and we need to create a way that everybody can participate in fixing the Apartheid poverty legacy.
Fixing the poverty created by Apartheid should be a national shared goal.