We are tired of having to raise you, our elders; writes Marungwane “Shadi” Ramashapa.
African culture has taught me to respect my elders. It has taught me to bite my tongue, keep my eyes low and to divert my angry gazes.
Speak only when spoken to. Do not involve yourself in the affairs of elders. Do not to express your opinion, we will tell you how to feel. Why are you even in the room while elders are speaking? I have not, however, been taught how to react to the actions of certain elders. The kind of elders with destructive actions and appalling behaviour. Those elders who steal, who have no regard for others, those who are generally menaces to society. This has led to a conflict most simply represented by the question, ‘How does one respect an elder who behaves like a child’?
This challenge has led to me having to learn how to juggle tradition and the reality that respect is earned rather than acquired at a certain age. I am teaching myself when it is necessary to speak. Teaching myself how to speak without thundering. Teaching myself when to storm and when to substitute my opinions with silence. South African politicians (and the general mismanagement of this country) are constantly providing me with reasons to speak, especially when not spoken to.
I am disappointed that some things need to still be spoken about. Disappointed that our country is being run by elders who seem to be more concerned about reliving their youth than building this country.
Dear SA Politicians,
You are far too old for us to be having this conversation. Too old to have to be reprimanded at so many turns. Too old to be told that providing strippers for the entertainment of prisoners is not the way towards rehabilitation. Too old to have to be asked not to steal from the people who have put you in power. You are too old to be told that hate begets hate and that you need to watch your tongues. Far too old to have to be asked not to sell this land. Too old to be told that it is not fair to wager a country’s economic freedom in your political games. This country’s people should not be pawns in your game of chess. We are tired of having to raise you, our elders.
Perhaps it is time to realise that we too are elders now. Adulting is upon us and we need to start taking an active interest in our society. It is time to stop going into the proverbial ‘other room’ when matters which concern this country come up. We need to know more than the propaganda being fed to us, need to read more than what is being tweeted. I believe that active participation in the politics of this country may just save us all. May just help shine a bright light onto the dark and seedy areas. May help us have a clearer understanding of the dynamics at play. Interest and participation may help us begin our walk in a better direction for this country. It time to be heard. It’s time speak up, there is so much of our kind of magic which is needed here.
Marungwane “Shadi” Ramashapa [@Thee_Shadi] is a Masters candidate at the University of Johannesburg. Her interests lie in social development and governance. She also uses writing, arts and poetry in achieving a sustainable society.