Monday, September 22, 2008

Eulogy on the death of honour, integrity and ethics

At midnight, exhausted, I lay in bed listening to the soothing sounds of qiyam ul layl drifting in through my window. A cool breeze wafting through, flirting with the sheer curtain. It was a peaceful, calming end to a day filled with anxiety and uncertainty. Almost as though Allah (SWT) was sending a message that everything was going to be ok. There still is a lot of uncertainty and people are still anxious and worried and the future looks rather precarious. But then we’re reminded by Allah (SWT):

Help yourselves (in your affairs) with patience and prayer. It is a difficult task indeed, but not for the humble ones (2:45)

So what do we say about the situation our country is faced with? Can we just ignore it and think that life goes on as normal? I doubt that! What can be said about this President who has been publically debased by thugs?

It was the humility and the gentle acceptance of fate that struck me most. Had it been any other man, perhaps they might have fought to the bitter end. Some were surprised that he didn’t. But wouldn’t a vote of no-confidence have been all the more humiliating. His exit was graceful. A person who stood by his beliefs. A person of integrity and wisdom. A human being – not infallible. Someone who, years ago, stood up at the United Nations and told the world that “we have failed”. And yes the world failed in its responsibilities to the poor and to Africa. Remarkably, he didn’t give up, in the in the face of the harshest criticism. He had a vision for a better life for all that was cemented in a strong value system.

“Indeed the work we have done in pursuit of the vision and the principles of our liberation movement has at all times been based on the age-old values of Ubuntu, of selflessness, sacrifice and service in a manner that ensures that the interests of the people take precedence over our desires as individuals.”

It begs the question whether the new leadership will still hold fast to those values or are we soon to witness selfishness, greed, and the interests of a few over others?

Are we to suddenly ignore the huge successes achieved by our country under the leadership of this man and instead harp on the few mistakes he may have made? Nelson Mandela led us to Freedom but it was Thabo Mbeki who took us to the gates of prosperity. How many of us are aware that in 1994 we inherited a debt that the Apartheid government incurred and that it was Mbeki who changed that and hurled us out from a debt crisis to be seen as one of the healthiest emerging economic powers in the world.

They cry about him being an itinerant - how he’s more interested in Africa than South Africa but what are we without Africa? We’re just a little speck of dust at the bottom end of a huge continent. Where does the arrogance come from? Do we still have delusions of living isolated, on our little island, away from the rest of the world as we did during Apartheid?

They say he is aloof and disconnected from the people. So really this is a teenage popularity contest, where the nerd who doesn’t dance at the parties and who reads and thinks and philosophises can’t win and the bully, playboy gets crowned king at the matric ball. How different are we then from the Americans we laugh at for having voted for George Bush.

A few years ago South Africa was known as the beacon of freedom, of human rights, of all things good and pure. We stood as an example to the world for reconciliation, for peace and dignity.
Today we’re mocked!

Sounds like an obituary doesn’t it? Perhaps it is a eulogy on the death of honour, integrity and ethics.

Maybe we can take comfort in the choice for an interim leader. This may have prevented chaos and a mass exodus of senior officials, which would possibly have left the country in a deplorable state.

The change may be needed but are we ready for the turbulence

The secret of Truth is not unravelled by questioning or giving away your wealth and position. You cannot exalt the heart with mere words, pain is the price that the heart has to pay – Mevlana Jallaluddin Mohammed Rumi


KiLLa said...

turbulence is good..

as long as its a smooth landing..

im confident of our country's future..

but im naturally optimistic.. As life is too short to be negative all the time..

desert demons said...

our country needs more ppl like u. :)

KiLLa said...


No.. It couldnt handle another of me..

Anonymous said...

yes, lets not defend some of his rather notroius decisions. but on the whole. This process was badly managed and heads will roll.


bb_aisha said...

I don't know why-but I didn't think you were South African. I take it you aren't living in South Africa at the moment though? Sorry-just curious:-)

Indeed, Mbeki was not infallible & had his faults. But I too admired his graceful exit, and lament the manner in which he had to leave office.

I was discussing this with a colleague today whom I also regard as a friend. She's 20 years older than me, a middle-aged white woman who has no hope for our country. As a journalist she reports fairly, but her personal views differ vastly. (As it does for many of us journalists) Given her background, one can understand her viewpoint. She's not racist, but she just feels there are no more opportunities for her here. But then neither does she feel there are opportunities for her elsewhere.

Yet many of my friends, people like myself who are blessed with so much, see no hope for this country. I cannot stand this defeatist attitude. We can't broadly say 'SA is going the way of Zim'

Leaving in droves exacerbates the situation. This is our country-we have to stay. It needs us.

I remain optimistic-but it does hurt to think we're going to be ruled by a corrupt man (in my books he is)

The time has come for us to vote an individual into power, and not a party. And we need a credible opposition party. I'm glad Kgalema is the acting President. But in 7 months from now, unless a miracle occurs, we are to be ruled by a man not worthy of respect.

desert demons said...

I guess wherever it is that I am, I always feel most linked to South Africa because it holds many beautiful memories for me :)

I'm glad that many take this positive attitude and I'm not entirely sure about voting for an individual but at times like this the least that can be done is that the ruling party is given an opposition.

As the old advert goes... "South Africa, Alive with possibilities"

desert demons said...

hmm Aasia - I think that this time nore than heads will roll and Killa as an avid reader of your blog, I'm agreeing that having only one of you is best ;p