South Africa is a democracy entering her early twenties, a nation made up of 52 million souls. 52 million beings who make decisions on a daily basis. 52 million lives intertwined with each other. 52 million people that impact who we are as a nation. It's quite ironic that with 52 million people making up our nation, only a handful of powerful people dominate our headlines. A handful of people appear to abuse their power and continue to do so.
What can we as individuals do to affect real social change?
Meet Xolisa Bangani, Head Farmer and Founder of Ikhaya Garden at Isikhokelo Primary School, Khayelitsha. Xolisa started his organic community gardening project in September 2013, he uses the school as a platform to teach the youth in the area how to create their own sustainable gardens. The project hopes to spread small-scale farming in the township so that residents can afford to eat healthily and become self-reliant.
We are constantly bombarded by negative press about this country, that we tend to neglect to look at the positive. I believe that our biggest threat to this country more than corruption is hopelessness and apathy. As we sit idly by and complain about the state of the nation. We contribute to the disillusionment in our country's future instead of actively trying to change it.
There's a concept in criminology called broken windows, which postulates that if a window is left broken and unrepaired, people walk past the window and think that as no one cares to fix the window, therefore no one is in charge. It is believed that there is more likelihood that the building would then be vandalised and suffer more decay as no one is making a concerted effort to maintain it. Our apathy/hopelessness for this country is a metaphor for our broken windows. Each time that we use words to convey our disillusionment in this country, we are self-perpetuating that disillusion. Each time we somehow contribute to the improvement of our nation we fix a window. The only way we can effect change is by creating change ourselves.
There is a site called forgood.co.za, it has been compared to a dating site for the giving industry, it matches people with organisations that can best make use of their skillsets. I encourage you to take a look at the site and see how you can potentially contribute. You can volunteer your time or give goods.
How could this potentially effect real social change?
Xolisa whose farming initiative I mentioned earlier has already imparted his knowledge to a brother organisation, Ekasi Project Green, based at Vusamanzi Primary School. It was started in September 2014 by six friends who were inspired by Ikhaya garden. This story is one of many, Xolisa began Ikhaya garden not realising how much his passion, energy and inspiration would spill over into the rest of the community.
A tipping point comes from the world of epidemiology. It's the name given to a moment in an epidemic when a virus reaches critical mass. It's the boiling point. It's the moment on the graph when the line starts to shoot straight upwards. Sometimes It appears that a change, or tipping point acts in isolation, that it happens in an instant. But instead, it is a product of many interweaving catalysts, an unseen chain of events that leads to a build-up.
We forget that our 52 million souls are those catalysts, that we have power, that as a collective we are strong beyond measure, that we could be the tipping point for our nations change, we need to take it on ourselves as individuals to somehow contribute. We can ensure that the sum of the whole is greater than its parts.
Anne Frank said that "The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands." I believe that the final forming of a nations character lies in the people's hands. Each and every one of us does have an impact on our country. If we breed apathy or hopelessness, nothing will change. Our power lies in our own hands; not in the hands of the corrupt few. Our nation is ultimately made of people and although the positive consequences of our actions are not always immediately seen, directly knowable, or even measurable – pessimism, despair and apathy don't build nations – our actions ultimately do.