I had just launched an initiative which I hoped will help inspire learners to think deeply about the future and their role in it. I aptly termed it ‘THE POWER OF ONE’ (I will not take credit for this phrase as it is not original; it has been used a lot on television and other media). The main objective of my initiative is to start something good and to move others to action. I am hoping the forward momentum will be so strong as to move other people to initiate similar projects to help others.
For the launch; I had decided to embark on a tour around all provinces of South Africa using a motorcycle. I had hoped to visit schools and township communities to spread word of my intended purpose. I succeeded at the level where I had pitched it and I am now able to do a bit more than on the maiden tour. I am hopeful that I will be able to grow more and to touch more lives in the process.
I have heard people say that Africans are the biggest recipients of charity; but not many of them are willing to do anything to raise the required funds or attention to mitigate effects of poverty. It is further asserted that Africans are quick to develop a culture of entitlement. This culture is counter-developmental and instead serves to further entrench feelings of helplessness and laziness. I am however cognitive of the fact that international aid ‘aimed at improving the lot of poverty stricken Africa’ instilled and entrenched this dependency that is quickly feeding on the marrow of helpless people on our continent.
Douglas Booth writes about the culture of entitlement in his book; “The race game: sport and politics in South Africa”. I am particularly captivated by an excerpt under; ‘Beyond Apartheid’, where he writes:
“A culture of entitlement adds another burden to reconciliation. In the struggle against apartheid every state institution lost its legitimacy. ‘The struggle’ dictated a strategy of noncollaboration with state institutions. As a result, rents and bills, including those for housing and domestic electricity, went unpaid. These strategies may have psychologically empowered the black underclass, allowing them to negate the conditions they held responsible for their plight, but they also created a peculiar set of expectations about entitlements under a postapartheid government: a black government would provide all services free. Paradoxically, the apartheid state’s failure to act against debtors reaffirmed these beliefs. Mandela has called for a moral crusade against the culture of entitlement, and community education programmes were initially successful. For example, a year after the launch of the masakhane (let’s build together) programme, the number of Sowetans refusing to pay their electricity bills declined from 80 per cent to 35 per cent, but the initital impetus has died and South Africa desperately needs a new moral order. Sadly, there is little evidence of this new order emerging among ordinary whites”.
From what Douglas Booth has written about, it is apparent that the culture of entitlement is ‘psychological’ and as a result it is possible for people to adopt a new mindset that serves to empower them to do better. I decided to break from the mould to help myself and others and possibly to become a mouthpiece for this new moral order; this change is long overdue.
I launched my tour and travelled around the country where I visited learners at different schools and people in township communities. I started talking about all our responsibilities; responsibilities to myself, responsibilities to my neighbours, responsibilities to my community and responsibilities to my country. I also wanted to impress upon them that this is a process we need to follow to leave a desirable and lasting legacy.
As I travelled, I was amazed by how many ideas came to me as I allowed my mind to absorb the unspoilt beauty of our country; the endless plains, the rolling hills and mountains. I let out a solitary chuckle from within the confines of my helmet as I remembered one comedian saying: “if you were to look closely into the horizon in the plains of South Africa, you would be able to see the back of your head”. The effect of his un-scientific statement was clear and I could see what message he wanted to share with his audience.
I originally wanted to compile a coffee table book with pictures from my tour; this idea was soon overtaken by something bigger as events started unfolding around me. The main reason why I had embarked on this journey was to inspire others to be better and in that I would also be helping myself.
The moment of my inspiration and change of mind regarding the form my publication was to take came as I was riding through Britstown; this is a small and pristine town in the Northern Cape Province. It is so small that had I blinked, I would have missed it. I stopped for fuel and enjoyed the serenity brought on by the surroundings. At that moment something came over me that if I were really religious (at that point) I would have said it was owed to some divine intervention.
There was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was about to set. The soft colours that can only be evoked by the advent of sunset seemed to envelope the vast expanse and made me feel really warm from within. I could not help but smile as I got excited by what seemed to me as a wonderful idea and I decided then that I would see the project to completion. I played around with titles in my head and this seemed to further fuel my determination to succeed at this also.
The moment of my short-lived celebrity, brought on by the colour of my skin and the fact that I was on a motorcycle laden with camping gear, soon ended as I rode out of Britstown. I stopped again soon after; took in more of the beauty and sated my lungs with the wonderful fresh air. This was as though I had wanted to take it all with me. I took out my notebook and started scribbling a few of these good ideas lest I forgot. This was just wonderful and it marked the beginning of what was to be a book.
I experienced a lot of good and bad, in a short space of time and at a certain point, I had thought that my tour would fail but I would not allow my dream to fade away so easily.
This book is a guide from my experiences to help others to believe in and to follow their dreams. I know that all our experiences are different but we all share a similar determination to triumph over adversity.
As I continued to ride, I went through rain, wind, sun, heat and cold; this was so reminiscent of how all our life experiences play out. We all get faced with difficulties at least once, we either emerge victorious or we choose to accept defeat as we go through different seasons of life.
I choose to do my best so I can succeed; it is really easy to give up and accept that you have failed. I find it really fulfilling to do my best and to succeed in the face of failure.
Remember to remain passionate about your ideas; the rest will become natural as you progress. Do not shelve your good ideas for later, they will not remain hot for long.
–Thurston Sebotsane (Inspirational Speaker & Life Coach)