Who is having the last laugh on colonialists? (Clue: not SA)

So the air is thick with the spectre of colonialism, let loose by the remarks of Helen Zille. For which she is about to be punished.

I’ve had my say on Facebook, so I won’t bore my readers with my views once again, except to say that:

  • I KNOW she doesn’t have a racist bone in her body;
  • Her personal experience and track record PROVE she is repulsed by oppression of any form and that she has fought against tyranny with all her (considerable) might, all her life; and
  • Anyone who wants to refute that (meaning, with facts), can take me on right here.  But please inform yourselves on Zille first, to save us all a lot of time.

So, enough said on the content of her Tweets.

Moving on. An added benefit to this saga is that Zille inadvertently got the nation talking … again. She has a knack for that. And it got me thinking.  What would be the biggest revenge that an oppressed people could have on their oppressors?

Hatred? Nah.  Most of the oppressors are dead and gone or couldn’t give a damn. Reverse racism? Uhuh.  Not really. Except for the brief satisfaction it gives to punish descendants of the oppressors with vitriol or worse,  what sustainable satisfaction is there in that?  Particularly if that focus becomes obsessive and only serves to bring everyone down, rather than hoist them up.

History lessons to set the message well and truly straight? Well, yes.  It’s essential to inform people – most particularly new generations – on the real stories of oppressed nations and put paid to decades of colonial brainwashing.  Because hidden behind and beneath the twin sets & pearls, tea & Victoria sponge, the gin & tonics, the missionary schools, the literature and technology, the gracious and oh-so-civilised British Empire, lies murder and mayhem and arrogance of the first degree.

But does forcing that ugly truth into our national discourse equal good, juicy, old-fashioned REVENGE?  I don’t think so.

There is only one obvious route left.  Success. Prosperity. Advancement. Call it what you will, but for me, nothing would bring greater pleasure than to see the oppressed create a society that is happier and more successful than the one the oppressors left behind.

Singapore has shown the world the middle finger in the best possible way.  She just got on with it, accomplishing what others undoubtedly thought they could not do and proved that life is even better than before.

The image in my brain is that of an abused woman who’s brutal, cheating husband is finally dealt with in a court of law.  She is afforded her just deserts – the children, the house, a maintenance agreement, maybe a car and a cash settlement too.

Instead of wallowing in despair, burning down the house and ramming the car into a wall, turning on the kids in her anger, stalking her ex-husband, drinking herself into oblivion and gambling her maintenance at the local casino, she uses her new-found assets and independence to forge a fresh life for herself and her children.

She finds a job, works hard, improves her circumstances, expands her house, trades her car in for a better model, maybe finds a new love, nurtures her children and teaches them that cheating and abuse of power will not be tolerated in the household she now heads.

The court order enforces access to the children to her former husband, the tyrant. Years pass and he witnesses first-hand her success, her happiness, her independence, her stamina, her parenting skills.  He watches her build upon the structure of the failed marriage and desperate unhappiness that he left behind.

Oh YES, baby!  Now THAT is the ultimate revenge. Just writing it gives me a thrill of pleasure.

Now ask this woman:  did anything GOOD come out of the BAD? Did she use anything out of the dark years to enable her to emerge into the light?

If she’s honest, she’ll say: “Indeed, I did. I needed that house. After all, I helped build it even though I didn’t personally design it or literally pay for it.  I couldn’t have held down a job without that car, which I didn’t buy myself.  And yes, I had to have those monthly payments from my ex in order to survive while I found my feet.

“And in the process, I found the biggest prize of all. I discovered myself along the way, my strengths, my own identity, my abilities. Most importantly and my biggest pride is that I have passed on this legacy to my children.”

Why can’t we, as South Africans, do that and more?  Why DON’T we? I have been told by clever people that we had to go through this transition, this uncomfortable transformation period, because all nations undergoing similar political change have.

Crap. I will never accept that we, knowingly and with masochistic intent, had to endure the past 22 years of degeneration and crushing disappointment, and the theft of R700 billion and counting by our own government,  to somehow “know ourselves” as a nation.

I’ll get over it and move on, as they say. What I won’t get over is the suggestion that we can go on like we are any longer.  Accepting of the looting and lying as if it was our unlucky destiny. Mired in political correctness. Daring not say, in the face of certain disaster, what the problem is if it risks upsetting stupid sensibilities.  We absolutely cannot.

I don’t think it’s treacherous or treasonous to suggest that we take what we have and build on it, no matter if those assets were built pre-1948 or pre-1994 or pre any other cathartic moment in our history.  Who the hell CARES?

And if anyone – ANYONE – can tell me, in truth, that a poor child living right now in squalid conditions in utter despair, would question where her education, health care, shelter, recreational facilities, running water and a clean toilet come from before she accepts it, I am ready to meet her.

The reality is that economic prosperity is ours for the taking.  The reality is that we need to fire the current government, no matter how painful that may be, and hire a new one.

And if the new one betrays us or fails to deliver, we need to do it again. And again. And again.

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