Seek and Dare to Expect

Courtesy of 1STBORN.Photography, by Tshepo Phologane

Written by Thokozani Mhlambi

There is an ancient biblical proverb that goes: “People stay in hiding when bad men come to power. But when they fall from power, righteous men will rule again.”

From this saying, it looks as if the wrath of bad men silences the perspectives of good man, to the extent that they become invisible. The result is that all one can see during the dominance of bad men are bad things only. But there is something missing in the saying: what makes the bad men fall?

It does not look like it is the good men who put pressure on them to fall. Something else happens. It seems as if bad men are brought down by the outcomes of their own bad actions. Somehow the effects of their bad works piles-up until the situation condemns itself through the totality of its own actions. It is necessary therefore that corrupt men be allowed room to fully develop and demonstrate their ill-intentions. Even when they may plead innocent, they must simply be watched. Their own works must condemn them. In this way, when justice is exercised over them the outcome might be beyond all question

And this is where things get interesting!

Having been unmasked, corrupt men must fall. When this happens righteous/good men are able to rise. They become visible again and can ascend to a position of power. But the crucial question is: are the good men and women ready? Are they ready to creep out of the cracks and make themselves available to take leadership when the time comes?

This is a sign of hope for all of us, that good is not far from us, that it is, in fact, very near. But it takes for us to believe that good can exist, firstly. Secondly, it takes for us not to be compromised into saying of our present situation things like: ‘Oh they are not so bad, at least they are not like the ones we had before.” Such a spirit of compromise is lack-lustre and indeed rundown. It emerges as a result of a promise that has been eroded, but of which we are unwilling to admit our disappointment. You cannot take a wrong path and hope to make it right again. That kind of hopeful servility does not work for me. In fact it undermines the seriousness of the demands we expect from our reality, and that of our children and indeed the future of this world.

How the promise is eroded can be seen in the example of Marikana in South Africa. In the Marikana moment we have witnessed mineworkers protesting over genuine concerns. But soon their protest action were hi-jacked by the arrival of Julius Malema, such that their unique struggle was then filtered into the mainstream power-struggles within the ruling party. In the mix was also Cosatu, who themselves are terribly interested in what goes on in the ruling party.

In this picture, we as the public are left pondering on what will happen in Mangaung rather than the story of the mineworkers themselves, and what they are protesting about.

We must understand that why workers resort to protest is about people trying to bring about a normal society in spite of oppression. We should not take this lightly. This concern for the normal and ordered society is probably the only genuine base from which people can project a self-sufficient definition of an ideal society.[1] It is the only meaningful context for a new society.

There is a lesson for us here in the Marikana uprising: If we allow ourselves to be seduced by intra-party politics of the ruling party, or any other party, we become de-mobilized. And we as an intellectual class are diverted from the work of consolidating the outcries coming from the people (the working class, the unemployed, our brothers, sisters, and aunts) in order to substantiate a honourable position of popular consciousness.

These are areas of fundamental importance in preparing ourselves for what is yet to come as well as of discovering and defining the basis of its integrity as a new consciousness. To conceive of the future in this way is to be hopeful and filled with high expectations for days ahead.

But that requires us to take a stand as good men and women, not to be overcome by a spirit of compromise, but to wait & expect for when the ‘righteous will rule again’.


[1] Njabulo Ndebele (1994: 92). Rediscovery of the Ordinary.