When South Africans are unhappy or dissatisfied they don’t talk about it, they strike. Protests when they are conducted peacefully and within the boundaries of the law are considered to be legal. But not everything that is legal is necessarily good or right and in my opinion protests certainly top the list of ‘so called’ lawful practices.
Now the question is not whether these groups have a legitimate reason for feeling angry and frustrated or whether as human beings we have the right to react when we’ve been treated unjustly. The question is whether protesting is the best way to vent those feelings.
I had a friend who told me that whenever there were disagreements in the home the family policy was to sit around the table and ‘discuss the problem’. She despised this practice and felt that she could not always express her true feelings as everything had to be conducted very civilly. However i can only imagine the invaluable lessons and skills she learned during those family meetings. Negotiation, listening, communication skills. The ability to put yourself in some else’s shoes. The ability to express yourself coherently. These are all skills that are sorely lacking in South African homes, communities and workplaces. And more than likely one of the biggest contributions to the ongoing strikes being witnessed across the country.
What is even more disturbing is that as a nation we are in the process of raising up another generation of strikers. I came across this picture on the Equal Education website where members from this organisation initiate campaigns and lead learners to protest against poor service delivery, yes indeed this is the South African way.
Looking closely at these two pictures I wonder if there is really such a big difference? Yes In terms of the law one is legal and one is not, yet the elements of chaos, disorder, senseless activity that usually ends in violence is clearly evident in both.
I imagine most if not all of the children in these schools are not brought up in homes where disagreements are discussed and settled in a controlled and safe setting. Sadly those who are meant to teach them the skills to manage relationships and situations are instead teaching them to mount their requests on placards in order to be heard.
As a nation we need to rethink our methods of communication and what it really means to empower our youth.
Students protesting against a lack of library facilities in schools
Some workers who returned to work at Lonmin’s Marikana mine were told by striking colleagues to down tools