In my last article “Lessons From My Soweto Diary,” I talked about the importance of “thinking” in obtaining your freedom from oppressors. “Shack At The Base Of The Pyramid Of Beauty” is a continuation of my visit to South Africa.
As I mentioned in my previous article, I am a great fan of South Africa for many reasons; the courage in fighting and conquering the evils of apartheid, the positive culture of the soul as reflected in the symphony of their musical rhythm and myth, and Dr. Nelson Mandela’s exemplary life. My love for South African musical rhythm is immense; the rhythm impresses new poetries in my logical mind.
People who have visited South Africa always talk about the beauty of Cape Town. I’ve never been to Cape Town. I was at Sandton City, near Johannesburg, and I was very impressed. As a personal opinion, some major cities in South Africa can stand side by side, some of the big cities of Europe and America, and that is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
One day, while my colleagues and I were driving from Pretoria to Midrand, admiring this nation that is a pyramid of beauty, we were shocked by what we came across. From a distance, we could see that there was a town that looked more like one of the ghettoes in my home country; it was Tembisa. Tembisa was a complete contrast to the things we saw in Sandton City or some parts of Pretoria or Johannesburg. Tembisa is a black township which was established around 1957 when the apartheid regime took over government. Tembisa is a Zulu word meaning, “There is hope.” We wondered and pondered, asking ourselves this life’s essential question, “How can there be a shack at the base of the pyramid of beauty, and people still think there is hope?”
Like most life’s essential questions, the answers are located in the unprintable part of a man’s anatomy. Tembisa is a reflection of the ills and diseases of apartheid. Well, if we blame apartheid for creating ghettoes, who do we blame in Kenya, Nigeria, Burundi, and all the rest of Africa where deprivation and neglect have become part of institutional leadership?
Tembisa, a symbol of hope has come to manifestation. The South Africa of today is free from apartheid. Thank God! But, one thing that people must realize is, freedom and hope are two dimensional; external and internal. When your oppressors set you free, it is your responsibility to set yourself free. The legendary Bob Marley said, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery…” South Africa is free, but the people also have to set themselves free. I remember discussing with some young people in an area called Centurion about the relevance of embracing education as a way of setting the mind free. One of them said, “it is your perception that I have not acquired relevant education.” When I looked critically into her ideology, I knew she was completely wrong. Misunderstanding the immense concept of perception can lead to doom. We must realize that we must call a spade a spade. In life, perception does not reduce the concreteness of objectivity. A society that makes objectivity subjectivity is bound to face dire consequences. If we must be free, the freedom we give to ourselves must stand above that given to us by other people. No man can save you if you refuse to be saved. You can never be freer than your choice.
Back to Tembisa, my town of hope, in my ponder, I wondered how much hope has really been given to those who need it. Tembisa is an example of most towns in Africa that have been neglected by those we have entrusted with leadership. Sorry, did I say we entrusted? Most African leaders actually entrusted leadership on themselves.
The people who occupy the Tembisas of this world form the thickest part of the pyramid. Like every pyramid, the base is the thickest. Like every pyramid, the base is the foundation; no base no peak. Getting out of the base requires a fight; this fight is not the fight against physical beings, but against the odds of life that desire to keep us at the bottom of life. No man gets up without a fight. No one gets there without the courage to deal with the chains of retrogression that lock up the mind of progression. If I truly have Tembisa in my mind, I must run with the vision of one that has a hope. If I have Tembisa in my mind, who needs a Carolina? The question about life is not where people put you, but where you put yourself. It is not illegal to be at the base, but it is amoral to end the race at the beginning. The reason for a Genesis is because one day, there will be a Revelation. Moving from Genesis to Revelation is a tedious task. To get to Revelation, you’ve got to cross 64 streets; moving from street 1 to street 66 requires determination and courage. Hope becomes hopeless if the wrong attitude is linked with hope. If there is hope, go for it. If you go, you will get. People only celebrate those who get there. You can get there if you start moving, striving and fighting. To achieve your dreams, you must be ready to go through the rough roads, drive through the rough roads, and construct new roads where there are dead ends. It is only dead when you say it is. If you believe in resurrection, never say, die. Nothing is dead to a man who sees life. You may be a shack at the base of the pyramid of beauty, it doesn’t matter. You can only remain there if you make it your destination. If you see hope and go for hope, you will end up in desired expectation. In my Tembisa, there is hope! In my Tembisa, there is expectation!! In my Tembisa, there is fulfilment!!! I will not end up in Tembisa, I am moving to Cape Town. No one can scapegoat a man with a Cape in mind. Up I move from the shack at the base of the pyramid of beauty!