Sunday, December 26, 2010

LETTERS TO OOM SCHALK. Values we should aspire to...

Dear Oom Schalk,
One of the nicest things about life in The Colony, apart from having sufficient water for the brandy - on the stoep at sunset - is the prospect of having not one, but two newspapers, delivered to the doorstep each morning before the Sun has found time to fully stoke it's furnace.
The fellow that ensures their delivery is a young African lad whose smile could light a candle.I am sure that delivering newspaper's is not what one would call a well paid job and yet this youngster in serving his employer and the community epitomises what the founder of Walmart - Sam Walton, relates as his three universal secrets of success; Turn Up - Turn Up On Time and Turn Up On Time - With Enthusiasm!

If one were to measure his competence in the field of service delivery using Sam Walton's, 'Three Secrets of Success' alone, this young man would rate far higher than many of our Cabinet Ministers,who often fail to turn up, who very seldom turn up on time and whose enthusiasm, when and if they turn up, is more aligned to "what's in it for me", rather than "how best can I serve the people"!

With this train of thought sitting in a siding at the back of my mind and with both The Times and The Mercury of  Monday the 6th of December having been promptly delivered by the said young man, I assumed my customary position on the stoep with sufficient coffee and rusks to see me through both newspaper's without interruption.

Having digested The Mercury, in particular, The Idler column and found that it rose to it's usual standard of a riveting read, I turned my attention to The Times and had my vision arrested by the smiling face of  an intelligent and street-wise journalist called Justice Malala on page 8. Justice has a weekly column in The Times under the by-line - Monday Morning Matters, (Ja nee Oom Schalk, when he gets to our age he will realise that everyday matters!)

This particular edition of Monday Morning Matters dealt with statement's made by a leading South African author who chose to go public regarding her dislike of blacks, how she didn't understand them, how she felt scared of them and blamed them for South Africa's violent crime problem - her rationale being that black people were "angry because of their own incompetence". In using that rationale and the fact that she is a white person generalising that all black people are incompetent, I found myself agreeing with Justice - "she stands exposed as a racist"!

 It is important, however, to moderate one's agreement with the fact that she does not speak for all white people, she does not speak for all authors and though she may speak in Afrikaans, she does not speak on its behalf as a language or as spokesperson for all who speak it as their mother tongue!

The message Justice sort to convey through the medium of this edition of his column, was that we have failed as a society, since the removal of apartheid, to entrench values of non racism and non sexism among people like the author and many others. He stressed the need to entrench these values in the way we educate our children, they must see us living and mingling freely with our countrymen and understand that what we have built in the last16 years is far stronger and more powerful than the previous 46 years of apartheid that nearly ruined us all....

Ja Nee Oom Schalk, he wrote with a fervour and stressed the need (many times) to create the right environment for and mind set in our kids, particularly those born post the apartheid era - those children whose right it is to enjoy the full protection afforded them by our Constitution and who have (my words here), the inalienable right to seek employment in the country of their birth unfettered by any form of racism or sexism.

Wikipedia defines institutional racism as follows - "certain racial groups may be denied rights or benefits, or receive preferential treatment". The previous dispensation entrenched job reservation, the current dispensation uses the term "affirmative action" and demands that employers adhere to a quota system to enhance black economic empowerment.Two dispensations - same result, except the latter pretends to protect a Constitution many regard as the fairest in the world.

Justice is no racist - he clearly despises both racism and sexism! In the column of the 6th of December, he openly raised the thorny topic of affirmative action. He said, "It is not easy. The implementation of affirmative action for example, can lead to fights, insecurity and hurt. The selection of the Springbok team will lead to heated debate"..... In his use of this last sentence of the paragraph above, he suddenly deflected from the needs of our children, that informed the central theme of his column and defaulted to the hardy annual of quota's in sport. Sadly, it seems, he just could not face the obvious truth that our Constitution declares ALL our children as equal... and that affirmative action, tragically, fits the description of racism outlined in Wikipedia....

Ja Nee, Oom Schalk, at the risk of sounding sexist, sometimes one needs big balls to defend the values we should aspire to!
Please send my Christmas wishes of reconciliation and peace to all those wonderful souls in the Marico. I remember them all with great fondness!
Spyker Koekemoer

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