Dear African National Congress,
I hate it when adults tell me that I don’t understand what you did for black people. I despise it even more when they tell me that I’m too young to understand what you did for us. I read about all about you. My family may not have been one where many of our relatives were in the front line of the struggle, but they sure taught me a thing or two about the struggle. Listening to the experiences they had on a daily basis taught me enough about the reality which was their lives, and that in itself was a struggle.
In this letter, I want to wear my heart on my sleeve. As a bornfree, you may be expecting me to break out into whining about why you’ll never so much as smell my democratic cross on the ballot sheet. You may be expecting me, as is custom now, to moan about the inefficiency of the government, the corruption, service delivery and what not. But I will not. I want to bring a voice you have never heard before, not the voice of the bornfrees- my voice.
Despite the number of times I have been told by elders that I know nothing about the struggle, I probably know you better than they- do on paper. I know about the pain that was felt when the nation’s hopes were shattered as Botha took you for a ride with his so-called iconic Rubicon speech. I know about the anxiety and excitement before Groote-Schuur, the Sebokeng shootings that so badly tainted the sacred ground of negotiations you had all worked so hard to embark on. I know about the close acquaintance of Ramaphosa and Roelf Meyer and what great significance that held- glimmer of green light on the horizon, promising a bright future for our country. I know about the frustration that came with the St Peter’s shooting, the Sharpeville Massacre, Oupa Gqozo’s messy Bisho massacre and the needless bloodshed in Bophuthatswana. I know about the terror that filled the land as Terre’blanche and the AWB stormed the Trade Centre. I know and value the motivation behind the formation of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.
What I wish to know is what it feels like to love you.
To speak of the ANC in the same awe-stricken manner in which the older generations speak of you. I wish I knew what it felt like to be fearless in those masses, marching and chanting in unison, all for one and one for all. I wish I could see you through the eyes that water when they see the green, yellow and black colours on that flag. I wish to feel the loyalty to you because of the political giants you were, not just in Africa but in the world. I look back at the Road to Democracy syllabus of my history class this year and think, “this was one hell of a movement”. But what happened to it?
I have seen the written accounts of political analysts and news broadcasters when they describe the miracle you orchestrated in 1994. I have seen ANC funerals and wanted to be in the presence of those braves lions and lionesses who are mostly the unnamed ‘struggle heroes’ to our youth.
I have seen how you stick up for one another when the one is in trouble. Yes, it is beyond frustrating most of the time but sometimes I think I understand. You are a family. You have stood against the hurricanes when the whole world said you wouldn’t make it; you recovered from rubber bullet wounds together, you were electrocuted and water-boarded together in the name of the liberation movement. You became a family… and to blow the whistle on your brother or sister is never easy. I have a sister myself and even when we’re wrong, we usually cover for each other.
As a bornfree, as you love to put it, I will not prove society right in their philosophy on the ‘Entitlement and Demanding Nature of Bornfrees’. So I won’t be demanding all the changes I want to see in the party. All I ask is for you to help me, help you.
If you want to know why such a large number of our youth did not vote, it is because we have been left out in the distribution of the Reasons to love the ANC memo. Every election nurtures the loyal love of the older generation and we- the young people- are left to find solace in the DA, EFF or Agang…
I ask that you look back at the ANC which had masses of black, white, coloured and Indian faces in marches for the same cause. Find the ANC that you were, and bring it back. The greatest gift you could give a bornfree is not a guaranteed job, but the true vision and legacy of the greatness which liberated them from a regime which would have dictated their class, race, lifestyle, beliefs and fate. The greatest gift you could give me is not a tender or a green light because of the colour of my skin, but to stay true to the vision of the martyrs of this once great revolutionary political organisation.
Teach us to love you. Give us reason to love you. Help us love you. Help us, help you to help this country.