About cecillwana

I am the vertex where the rural kisses with the cosmopolitan to create an eloquent being. Please never mistake my meekness with weakness.

This is my land

After 18 yrs in England, When Tiyo Soga saw this part of my land he he took his pen and wrote

“Bona izwe lakowethu, uxolele izono zalo, ungayithobi ingqumbo yakhe, hleze lufu usapho lwakho.”

I got so spiritual gazing at South Africa and her beauty. I realised that sometimes our eyes can prevent us from seeing beauty.

The allegory of bad government

Nelson Mandela and FW De Klerk

We have been sold this lie that the ANC of the late Nelson Mandela delivered freedom to us as a nation. Political freedom without economic freedom means absolutely nothing.

It is over 60 years since the drafting of the Freedom Charter in South Africa, a document that ushered a paradigm shift in thinking about the democratic rights of black South Africans and their protection under the law. The Freedom Charter starts off with a preamble that evokes deep seated values of Ubuntu, my humanity its tied to the recognition of your humanity:

“We, the People of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know: that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people…” (Freedom Charter, 1955)

But do ordinary South Africans feel that South Africa belongs to them, and are they sharing in the wealth of this country? I this paper I will be discussing why political freedom without economic freedom is meaningless. I will also look at the compromises made during the transition negotiation compromises, that now compromises South Africa`s democracy.

The betrayal of the Freedom Chatter

After 1994 it was popularly believed that political freedom was going to usher in economic freedom. That the new democracy implied not just the right to vote, but it also entailed a more inclusive ownership of the economy. The Freedom Chatter promised that all citizens shall share in the country’s wealth. This promise was further emphasised by the ANC, in its Ready to Govern Policy Guidelines for a Democratic South Africa, which was published in 1992 (ANC, 1992).

Securing political power was supposed to be the first step not the only step. After political power was seized the ANC was going to drive the quest for economic freedom of all people.

It is Milton Friedman, and American economist who puts it quite well when he attests that economic freedom is a prerequisite for true political freedom, as economic freedom determines the kind of political freedoms we can enjoy (Friedman, 1962). Here, Friedman emphasises the power of economic freedom, and he takes the argument further by claiming that economic power determines the quality and type of political power a society can enjoy.

The conviction that an individual should be free to pursue his or her own ideals in a manner that he or she deems fit depend on the economic means he enjoys. This sort freedom has been fundamental in building thriving societies where its citizens are free to pursue their own happiness and self-determine their futures.

Today, sadly, in South Africa government has failed to create an enabling environment where people can thrive and follow their passions. The first thing that ‘top talent’ and our brightest young minds does is to leave, and this creates a brain drain and a perpetuation of skills shortage. The prosperity of countries depends on the creation of enabling environment for young people to express themselves creatively and innovatively.

The crippling economic compromises made by Mandela

According to a study done by Alan Hirsch, were South Africa is compared to its counterpart middle income economies such as Brazil, Malaysia and Turkey. South Africa is not doing very well, in fact it is doing very badly when it comes to its per capita growth (Hirsch, 2014). This is despite the attempts by government to reduce poverty with social grants and education subsides. Inequality remains dangerously high in South Africa. According to recent World Bank studies, South Africa is the most unequal country in the world, with a Gini Coefficient of 0.63 (World Bank, 2011). This sort of inequality is a breeding ground to all sorts of social ills and criminal activities.

On the other hand the top 50 richest Africans according to Forbes Africa, 16 of them are from South but only 2 of those 16 are black South Africans (Forbes Africa, 2015). This inequality is partly due to the deals and compromises Mandela made on behalf of all black South Africans during the CODESA negotiations for the transition of South Africa into democracy.

Nelson did not act according to the values Mandela the values of the Freedom Charter, which state that the wealth of the nation shall be shared by all who work in it. While others may argue that Mandela was forced by dysfunctional economy inherited from apartheid regime, still stands to debate. What is important is the scrutiny of whether or not the he made benefited the country, we should ask whether did the compromise to leave the economy untransformed helped really improved the lives of daily South Africans?

To answer this question I have looked at the recent national developmental indicators and nothing seems to have changed for ordinary South Africans, the unemployment rates are very high, and protests against a lack of basic services are an almost a daily occurrence. Business confidence is slowly declining in the midst of sluggish economic growth (Indicators, 2014). We also cannot ignore the rise of systemic state corruption. And the failures of the education system condemns future generations to a life of poverty and hardship.

The agreements and compromises reached by the ANC and the apartheid leaders only benefited white South Africans. It is white South Africans who remain with the best part of the land, means of economic production, manufacturing plants, and financial institution. Black South Africans only got the right to vote, when they finished voting they went back to the over-crowed townships, and things continued as they were.

 

This state inequality of black South Africans was made worse by the agreements between the transitional committee and the IMF. The transitional Committee was formed to facilitate the transition of South Africa from an apartheid system into a democratic South Africa. This group of individuals saw it fitting to accept an 850 Billion USD, loan from the IMF came with term and conditions that would permanently paralyse economic advancement black South Africans.

Amongst some the terms and conditions that this committee and Mandela agreed to with the IMF was the lowering import and export tariffs this meant white South Africans could put away their monies in offshore bank accounts without any consideration to the economy of the country. This outflows to rich people’s monies to overseas bank accounts lead to a raising of interest rates. The IMF also required South Africa to have free trade routes and privatise of state owned.

Last but certainly not the least the loan required South Africa to move away from its radical position of nationalising mines, banks and other strategic industries of the economy and to abort its policy on land expropriation without compensation. The ANC under the leadership of Mandela accepted these terms and conditions the expense of black people`s economic freedom. This was the same IMF that supported the apartheid regime with 2 Billion USD during 1976 to oppress black people in South Africa.

As South Africa enters a third decade of its political emancipation, we must ask ourselves as South African uncomfortable questions about the past that has brought us to where we are at the present, so we can honestly engage with our present lived realities. Eternal vigilance is the price of democracy and a thriving state.

The ANC as a liberation vehicle and people like Nelson Mandela have played a momentous role in the future of South Africa and did all that was humanly possible within their means the onus to build on the political freedom to attaining economic freedom is the duty of young South Africans. The children of South Africans must now decide on the future they envision for themselves, and this has to come from a critical honest engagement with the past and the present. This level of inequality in our country is only a breeding ground for revolt, something must be done urgently.

South Africa’s political history

Today I started my Summer school classes in South African political history, I thought it would be a nice detox from my usual dose of medical classes. 

Well I do not intend on giving you a crash course on South African history, but I will bring to surface some important considerations and emotions I felt and learned about South Africa and myself.

Like most things from our past, it’s a narration of greed and power. During the class I got to learn how apartheid Version 1.0 developed from colonialism until it was solidified by really smart men of my university , Stellenbosch. I am saying smart men because we are still trying to undo the horror they have made, and we are not doing a great job.

I could also not help but notice that through out history a blackbirds has always been a victim of a white men’s greed and trickery. This made me question simple thing, like, why do we learn histiry? I guess the answer would be like so that we do not repeat it, so that we can understand the present. 

Truthful as that maybe, I think that people do what people want to do in the context of the times and environment they find themselves.

I do not think that for example the Afrikaaners did not learn any valuable lessons from Germany or the US. But they socially engineered South Aftica in a way that would benefit them, regardless of the lessons that history might have taught them.

Lessons from history do not prevent humans from presently writing a history that would be grossly unjust and hateful. People always act out of self interest within the context they find themselves in.

History is retrospective and it can only teach us when we want it to, but it has no powers to influence our actions paving the future.

I was also aware of the teacher doing the teaching, what she was saying was not wrong, but it was also not right. Yes it was an accurate account of the events, however from the perspective she was analyzing it from.

History can be narrated however one pleases, while the narrator has the onus to be unbiased in her account, it remains the responsibility of the student to scrutinize and see the topic from different perspectives.

The student has the liberty to formulate his own conclusion based of variable sources and accounts but remembering that his conclusion is only but an opinion, part of the truth not the whole truth.

Pondering on semester ONE of year TWO

Behind the façade of success there is a lonely man putting innumerable hours i mastering his craft and learning the ins and outs of his field.

I am beginning to learn that success if not accidental, its not by happenstance. It is purposeful consistent effort put in to learning and improving once craft. Big businesses are not started over night, it takes time and effort.

Today we finished the first semester of second year, like any Stellenbosch trained doctor will tell you second year is like giving birth to an elephant. The amount of mental agility and inner strength to push during those contractions in immense. You soon learn that you are in a marathon not a sprint and if you are going to win, consistence and handwork are a must have.

When it comes to medicine, its not like Math, you don`t figure your way to an answer, the answer is given to you, its in the textbook and to extract it you must study the book. There is no way to know this work without studying it indepth, and I am saying in-depth because that`s what you must know to save a life oneday, the specific indepth details of the body.

I do not doubt that Medicine has and will give me alot in life, but the inverse is also true, Medicine is taking a lot out of me. This degree is changing me.

Blogging about my medical journey 

There’s a number of reasons why I disliked blogging about my medical school experiences. One of them was that ‘ I find medical students tak be very shallow, well that’s what you get when you take a 17 year old baby an make him grow around dying people.

Medical school people are a strange bunch, medicine is a strange field in its self.

You see we learn about giving ‘life’ but in that same process we are learning about taking it. We learn about great medicines like morphin which can give you life and take it away.

I don’t do well with ironies. Previously I started blogging as a way of sorting and structuring my thought, making them more tangable. 

My life revolves around endless medical content, this is great, because it atleast keeps my mind calm and intrigued, but I fear the shallowness of medicine.

I fear seeing the heart as a blood pump. I fear having answers to most things, we learn because we live, what happens when we have learned all we could? Well maybe such a point does not exist.

But I am taught by expects in their fields, man and women who have spend all their time learning the eyeball, the heart and 2 lungs, many of them are amazing doctors but suck as fathers.

I wa sharing how lonely studying medicine can be, we stay awY from people we love for so long and learning about illnesses. 

The jeourney seems long and lonely. She said to me, great people do not have friends, great dad’s do not make great doctors. This scares the sunshine out of me.

I want to be a brilliant doctors, well I will be, but I also kinda want to share my life with someone special, and learn to ride a horse.

But my abitions! My ambitions have employed me full time and I think the sad part is ‘ I love and enjoy it’ to a point where I don’t care, ridding horses when you can understand the electro-conductions of the heart.

I don’t find joy in playing bridge or crazy8 with friends when you be dissecting a cadavour. 

This not caring scares me and for a long time I did not want to blog about it but writing is how I make sense of turmoil. 

The power of silence

I have been grappling with the notion of understanding, when to keep quite. Starting medical school I never realized how much I don’t know, not just about medicine but life in general.

I have always taken pride in possessing the greediest brain, that never has satiety of knowledge and words.

The more I am sailing the sea of medical ocean, the more I realize how much I don’t know. As such I have decided to keep quite and experience.

This concept of not ‘telling more than one needs to know’ is a trickle- effect from the trip I recently had to Zimbabwe. I was faced with the notion of ‘ how many trips would I be willing to undertake without a camera, or a Facebook update?

As trivial as it may seem to experience without digitally documenting, it is not easy.

Learning is about seeing how much you don’t know, the endless gaps in ones knowledge and devising amicable ways to filling in those gaps.

When one is faced with the momentous task of growing both emotionally but most importantly entellectually, one needs to be aware that he cannot go through that process with the world, simply because ones understanding chances all the time.

I can not even begin to explain how much I have changed over the past 2 years. The things I was convinced I defiantly knew, now I am certain I haven’t even began to know a fraction of them.

My education has made my certainties uncertain. The things I strongly agreed with, I doubt them. 

Because of these uncertainties and doubts, I have learned to keep quite and learn.