OPINION by Andriques Che Petersen
The year 2014 has served up a long list of disappointments; and an even longer list of spectacles – spikes in the boredom we experience in day-to-day life. On the 1st of January 2015 we will have lived another 12 months, 53 more weeks and 365 days longer since the advent of a new year. But a new year is only fresh in symbolic terms usually.
For the most part, we’re stuck with the same issues we had to deal with on the 31st of December as we will be on the 1st day of the first month. This may seem despondent or even morbid, but it is true.
This year we said welcome back to Jacob Zuma, our president, whom to the majority of voting South Africans, was their favourite guy for the job. He wasn’t my favourite though; Zuma’s past four years in office have been unremarkable albeit for the scandals that have followed him like a steadily growing cartoon shadow.
Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to five years for culpable homicide and we were all quite upset about that. That case is now recorded as the quickest and most effective law degree course ever invented. We all became social media LLBs.
Then came the international media circus surrounding Shrien Dewani, a British businessman accused of having orchestrated the murder of his wife in Cape Town four years ago. He got off completely, despite two other men who were found guilty of the killing and associated acts pointing the finger at Dewani.
We had Steve Hofmeyer taking a puppet to court. He lost, thankfully, in the end it was puppet vs. puppet. Steve here being strung up and under the control of old school Afrikaner paranoia. (See Red October: the misguided belief that there is some form of white genocide going on). I’m not white, I’m not out there killing the paler skinned every night, Steve.
One thing in particular took place more recently, here in Cape Town, and it’s important that it took place in the Mother City. Something that confirmed my own beliefs in the existence of powerful racism: at least four cases of race related violence and/or abuses were reported in the last three months. This just a few weeks before the death anniversary of Madiba, who stood diametrically opposed to those actions.
The city of Cape Town was built and designed to divide races; twenty years after democracy, we are still divided. Sure my partner and I can walk through Long Street with our son without receiving a second glance, but take a step behind the ‘boerewors curtain’, or drive down the N2 and take any turn off you want, you’ll receive a different reaction.
In retrospect, 2014 was an awesome year for me. I received a son, and he stands for everything I stand for as a non racial South African. I learned many lessons this year, including how to be a father and making tough decisions you may not enjoy, that work for the greater good. I think, and really, this is just a thought, South Africa is not our parent. Each and every citizen, voter or not, is in control of its fate, we raise this teething mess of a country.
This country is growing, expanding, and in 2015 perhaps we can make this tough decisions we may not like, we can think before we vote again in 2016, we can act less untoward against our fellow man and we can respect others regardless of race, culture or religion. Right here and now I will admit I harbor prejudice towards others, it’s how we’re trained to see. But in twenty years, when I look back, and my son sees no race except to acknowledge cultural differences, I’d like to look back and believe I made a good decision moving on and acting smart.
Andriques Che Petersen is a VOC News journalist, political analyst and social media commentator.