SA yearns for Messiah to lead nation out of valley of dry bones

Waste, barren land is not what South Africans hope for as they think of their future.

In the words of the muse, we all, as citizens of this country, look forward to the joyfulness of the promised land – a land of milk and honey, a land of plenty, imagined in the Freedom Charter document hammered out at the Congress of the People gathering in Kliptown in 1955.

The desire of seeking new and better things is as old as life itself.

The ancient people longed for that future which they understood would mean going through insurmountable hurdles, including crossing the imaginary Red Sea if they were to reach a better world of justice and equality.

To underscore and make the point, we draw words from the ancient scripture.

“The spirit of the Lord carried out of the city and put me in the middle of the valley. The valley was full of dead men’s bones … The Lord made me walk all around among the bones. I saw the bones were very dry … Then he said to me, Son of man, can these bones come to life?”

Can these bones of our troubled South African life come to life? This remains a perennial question for the modern-day citizens of any country.

The analogous extract taken from the ancient scripture remains instructive for our time, and for our political life: do we have a country we are confident can sustain its people, or could it in the end turn into a valley of dry bones, barren and giving no life to its citizens?

In Zimbabwe, we saw the implosion unfolding in front of our eyes, and this was largely because of poor governance.

The Zimbabweans must start from scratch to fix the economy, to eject themselves out of the barrenness of the valley of dry bones their country has turned out to be.

South Africa is endowed with fertile land and minerals and a beautiful landscape. It also had a gift of prolific and good prophets and visionaries to help chart a better path of prosperity for the people.

There was Oliver Tambo; there was Nelson Mandela; there was Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe; there was Stephen Bantu Biko and many other talented leaders, including Chris Hani.

At different times of their visionary leadership, they pointed us, with their powerful and calculating voices, in the right direction if we were to become a successful nation and avoid a wasteland eventuality.

Do we today have the leadership endowed with the ability to see wood for trees – not bogged down by internal political squabbles to the detriment of the common good of all South Africans?

As South Africa sinks deeper into the mire of political degradation, what must be done to save our country, finding a solution to remedy our difficulties beyond narrow political interests?

In 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa was given a mandate to lead the country. The expectation is that he must lead from the front with confidence and determination.

Even as we accept that the country is facing many challenges, it is expected of him to muster the courage to talk to the disenchanted citizens.

There is a view that Ramaphosa has forgotten his wider constituency, and for reasons that are not clear, he is not communicating with it as he should.

The imbizos he had with the people at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic have disappeared even as the country faces another “pandemic” of another kind, which is the Eskom’s failure to efficiently supply electricity to all communities and essential entities.

There is a real sense that the president might be hiding from his people, perhaps embarrassed by numerous failures attached to his administration.

But we would argue that Ramaphosa would earn the respect of communities if he were to engage with them – communicate what bottlenecks are there that might be impeding progress and development in the country.

Mr President the country is in an analogous valley of dry bones. The people are waiting on you to give direction and to lead us out of the mire of hopelessness to prosperity.

  • Mdhlela is a freelance journalist, an Anglican priest, an ex-trade unionist and former editor of the SA Human Rights Commission journals. 

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