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I salute you, Sir, Mr President

The speech that rallied a divided nation


The day our 25 year old democracy grew up!

Amidst the binge buying, can we all take a minute to appreciate, celebrate and if it were possible give a standing ovation to the South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa. 

Let’s start with his speech. Us, South Africans, are no different to a bunch of sibling rivals. We fight, bicker, squabble and are just a bunch of selfish and self righteous spoilt children. And yet in a single speech, the manner in which a firm parent lays down the rules and the perimeters of engagement – he united us. He silenced us. He lead us. He informed us. He scolded us. He engaged us. And most of all he rallied us.
And OH! DO WE NEED rallying now. For 25 years we have despised each other and done nothing but poke at our Government for not doing enough. Have any of you seen a 25 year old? They have no clue about their life. So why are we being so tough on our 25year old democracy? Does a 25year old have the answer to the meaning of life? Are they making strong amazing responsible decisions that their future 50year old self would be immensely proud of? No. They’re busy making a ton of mistakes, confidence is a distant cousin and as a result they get involved with the wrong company (enter president Zuma and the Gupta’s), they are impressionable and want to be liked so they say and do things that aren’t in their best interest (enter Ace Magashule). Bottom line, 25 year olds make dumb decisions. Then one day, they learn what maturity is, because they wake up in the morning and have to deal with the consequences of making dumb 25 year old decisions. They should have listened to their elders more (enter Desmond Tutu). They should have paid attention to the subtle cues that little voice inside them that said, somethings not right here. Don’t do this.
But they didn’t. They talked themselves out of it. And made the bad decision. But when that moment of maturity comes, and it will. They see things clearly and maturity means they ask more questions. They are less approving and more present. They are less swayed by what those who claim to be experts say, and they listen to their inner voice. The right one. The one that speaks with reason. And they do what’s best for them. They step up. Raise their voice and take the first meaningful step into young adulthood. To lead their life with purpose. Protecting themselves. Caring for themselves. Putting their interests first. And leading unselfishly, but with purpose.
That’s what our President has just done. COVID-19 was our democracies one way pass into young adulthood. In the space of a weekend he rallied the private sector to contribute over R2billion of their money to economic relief efforts during COVID 19 in SA. He got his departments to work together for the first time, ever. Ministers spoke to each other, regularly with less of a departmental or Ministerial plan, but more of a patriotic and citizen welfare plan. Less about what can I do to make by Department shine, to more of a how do we work together to protect our people and our land. The President opened his arms like a strong dad would, and hugged all of us with supporting, firm hands. The kind of hug that a dad gives to his children when words are not enough, but his strong protective touch, tells you everything is going to be alright. Don’t worry. I am here. I got you. You know that hug. It only comes when things are serious. But you also trust that hug. It is one from someone familiar, someone who will always protect you first and then himself afterwards. Because that’s what dads do.. So his voice and tone were the strong heart. His words were the soft touch. They reminded us what it means to be a South African. To be a part of this family. That we are fighters. That we have been here before. Maybe this time there are more odds stacked against us. From the 2008 global financial crisis, to the loss of our most beloved Grandfather, Tata Mandela, through the Zuma era and all the corruption that has ensued. We triumph. We have what it takes to overcome if we stick together. Remember that we are a family, and family means no one gets left behind. His voice shook at times, so you know he was scared too. But so are all strong parents. They hold it together long enough to make you believe that all will be fine. But there are two moments, where it overwhelms them too and you see them quiver. For a second. But you see it. And you realise, shit just got real.
So to my beautiful, loved South African family. Let’s do this. On the brink of this 21 day lockdown, let’s stick together. Let’s rally behind our President and our government. Let’s support them. Let’s treat them like a 25year old who has just breathed the air of young adulthood, with maturity. Let’s listen. Let’s not doubt first, let’s be open-minded first. Let’s not judge, let’s take a moment to listen, to understand. Let’s trust. And most of all. Let’s be kind together. As much as we all have opinions about what needs to be done and what can be done and, and, and. Our current Ministers and President are the Commander- in -Chiefs. And they are sitting in that hot seat while we philosophise about action. They are the ones who will have to deal with the ramifications of their decisions. And that’s serious because the world is watching. And there are real risks here. Real risks. So don’t think that you can do better for them. They are on the inside, they are looking at the big picture and taking a number of things into consideration. From the outside we can make silo’d judgements, but from the inside the picture is completely different. So be a trooper, and rally with them rather than against them. Because we have done everything else. So let’s try a different approach.
Mr Ramaphosa, to you I say, I salute you Sir, Mr President.