Freedom and Joy

The past few days we celebrated our new Pope, Pope Francis. Many worldwide were filled with joy, including non-Catholics. The celebrations of the Church in the past few months have been similar to us in the country. Inspired by freedom, our wisdom fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters were able to come up with a solution that made us a democratic country.  Through the support we gave each other in the country, we are now celebrating 18 years of our democracy. The changes made and still to be made have given us hope. This day in 1994 we came together as a nation.

The adults were able to come together in celebration and to show their joys without holding back, those smiles and jubilation. We are also people of song, dance and drum beating; we took hold of our art and made use of it. Our songs became relevant for the events, our colours bright and suitable for us as a nation, our proverbs carried us through. The land, the mountains and the rivers stood still with us to celebrate the joys of democracy and peace. We were able to listen to ourselves through the agreements we made before the democracy and after. The agreements made left us with hope and that has been helpful even today. The country has a law that is known to all and that binds us together. Education became open and technology supported us the hopefuls.

There is more to be done though especially with education. A nation that is well educated is able to acquire wealth without its resources – human, material, intellectual, cultural and spiritual – getting misused. Our alarming illiteracy rates shock the world and hold us back as a nation. The lack of education creates a sense of dependency issue. This is ironic: in gaining our democracy, we had thought that we would be less dependent on the government.

Things have changed – and have stayed the same. Today the young who have become mothers are getting grant subsidy like their grandparents. The government gives this grant to the young mothers so that they can support their children; unfortunately it is definitely not enough to do what it is supposed to do.

Despite government figures, education is struggling; mismanagement and corruption is rife, as shown recently with the situation in Limpopo of textbooks meant for schools being found dumped in a river.

I know and believe, I hoped then in 1994 and I hope now, that those people we chose to speak on our behalf before our democracy were people of right mission. Many of them are now our Ministers but it seems as if they are either less energetic or over ambitious. What has happened?

Is this a government tactic:  short changing people with education so that they continue to come and beg from them, making them permanent dependents on hand-outs? Have we forgotten our Shosholoza song that says to us let us move forward and support each other?

Today, I urge everyone to come back to remember those times and moments of solidarity and wisdom.

Ms Puleng Matsaneng

Puleng works in Spirituality and researches Ignatian Spirituality in an African context. Her area of speciality is in exploring how African themes and practices of spirituality dialogue with the Western traditions, and how that is understood in relation to Ignatian Spirituality. She has looked at how Ignatian Spirituality can be integrated into the African worldview. Most especially, how the use of song and storytelling can be part of the prayer process. She is currently managing retreats in daily life and training prayer guides. Puleng is also involved in ongoing Spiritual Direction, giving 8-day and 30-day retreats. Her latest venture is a pilot programme of healing workshops that use the principles of Ignatian Spirituality.
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