Involuntarily my thoughts fleetingly flit to the song by Mike and the Mechanics “Looking back, over my shoulder”… Undeniably poignant, both tune and lyrics.
Not that it has any bearing on the point I wish to make. However there are some coincidental and semi-relevant parallels.
“….Looking back over my shoulder
With an aching deep in my heart
I wish that we were starting over
Oh instead of drifting so far apart
Looking back over my shoulder
Oh with an aching feeling inside
Cutting me up, deeper and deeper
Fills me with a sadness that I can’t hide…”
27 April 1994 literally brimmed with overwhelming evidence of the new road forward for South Africa. Legally. Legitimately. Irrevocably. There was no turning back. It would simply not be possible, nor desirable.
Our children were toddlers and youngsters. Their eyes were bright, their hearts eager and innocent. There was relief all round – at the end of a relatively short but intense era of severe injustice.
Our children were shaped and moulded into youths and young adults by the forces of a new order. All our children. In Khayelitsha, Macassar, Centurion, Durbanville, Bloemfontein, Mamelodi, Laudium, Lenasia, Langa, Soweto, Mitchell’s Plain, Durban, Muizenberg, Stellenbosch, Upington, Idutywa, Grahamstown….
They are rising to the challenge of making a rainbow after the storm. They have lion hearts. They are on the move… In via… We cannot obstruct them or stand in their way. We must never be found to be piling up obstacles where they need thoroughfare. There is only one way for them and that way is forward. Onward.
Their eyes are set on something beyond the horizon that is clear and visible to young eyes. Unclouded eyes. We cannot see what they see. But also: we may never try and force them to see only what we see. Never. They must never be persuaded to waste time looking over their shoulders.
They are making music, harmonious music that is growing and rising and filling the skies over Africa: a song of hope and freedom. So many are however not able to stay here, in Africa. Where they belong, where their roots have penetrated the African soil for generation upon generation. So many of our precious children have no choice but to pack their bags and seek their fortune much further afield – even in far-flung Korea, taking fresh expertise, buoyant ambition and immeasurable amounts of brain power with them. Leaving behind loved ones who pine for them but wish them well and actually send them off so as not to see their hopes dashed and dwindling.
The mentality of looking back and making desperate endeavours to rekindle the ashes of the past, in order to implicate the innocent carriers of the flame of hope in the so-called collective ‘sins of the fathers’, is not only defeating the object of building a rainbow nation: it is also causing dark clouds of doubt and doom to gather on the horizon.
Don’t dare choke our children with short-sightedness and small-mindedness. With the inability to look forward; to let go (‘and let God’). They have wings like eagles, they are strong and wise, they are the arrows from our bows and they will fly straight and secure if released by resolute archers who believe what they cannot yet see…