I’m a parenting journalist. So it may seem a bit weird that I’m choosing to write about politics, because really, most of the things I “investigate” involve parabens in bottle teats and the effects of helicopter parenting. I can list the chemical make-up of breastmilk off the top of my head, and I’m no Richard Poplak *fangirl squeal* but in my own way, I’m changing the world… one nappy at a time.
But that’s not enough. Because although many people think that “parenting journalist” means “mommy blogger” or “SAHM” (Stay at Home Mom), I actually give a shit about the plight of children in South Africa. And I take my job seriously. And it’s for that reason that I cannot stay silent about what I’m seeing. The future of my country is at risk.
According to my Facebook newsfeed, #FeesMustFall is a bunch of arrogant and impertinent post-pubescents who want everything for free, and don’t know the meaning of a hard day’s work. They’re throwing things, and burning things, and “why won’t the government just send in the military and sort this shit out?” (more than one person has expressed this utterly hare-brained sentiment)
Fine. I’m not a political analyst, I’m not an economist, and I actually don’t really know how zero tertiary fees could possibly work.
But you know, I did study history in High-school, so I’m gonna condense a couple of random facts for you right here:
- The French Revolution started in 1789, with a financial crisis, and a bunch of pissed off students. There was a lot more going on… hungry poor people, and a ruling power that didn’t care.
- The Arab spring started in 2010 in Tunisia with protesting miners, a financial crisis, a bunch of pissed of Egyptian students, starving citizens, and more than one ruling power that didn’t care.
- The Soweto Uprisings in 1976 started with school students and set off a chain of events that led to increasing pressure on the Apartheid government up to 2004.
That’s three off the top of my head. So there’s that. But there’s this whole other thing that NOBODY seems to be very angry about (although I can perhaps blame my Facebook algorithm for this.) Has anybody else noticed that our Minister or Finance and Public Protector have both been “pre-muzzled” in a single week? Have they noticed that SA’s bad-boy-turned-opposition-backer, Juju, just got charged (by the NPA) with a crime (based on an apartheid-era anti-protest law, for a speech he made two years ago) just days after publicly backing Gordhan? I’m really expecting a Zapiro cartoon with old shower-head in front of a chess board, with the whole of SA on the other side. The pieces in front of him have those wonderfully distinctive characteristics… Gordhan, Thuli, and Juju… and he’s forking us on that board. We’re being forked.
I really hate to use the terms “powder keg” or “tipping point”, because those old phrases have been thrown around for years. I’m also not intending to make some kind of shitty “country’s going to the dogs”, fear mongering statement here. I believe that whatever happens in the next while, South Africans, ALL South Africans, will keep on keeping on. That’s what we do. We’re a bunch of survivors, for better or worse.
But I had to put this down on paper. And, I guess, just basically ask what anybody else asks when things go so astonishingly pear-shaped: Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Can you believe this shit!?