I am struggling to articulate exactly what it is that is so enormously hope-inducing about this extraordinary victory that we all feel part of. Why is it so significant? Why does it feel so trajectory-altering? Has anything changed in the last 3 weeks? The cynics and the realists will be quick to remind us that load shedding will be back in full swing before the Bokke are home, the politicians are still insane corrupt narcissists, a basket of groceries remain a luxury few can afford, the price of fuel continues to climb and even this weekend there would have been a spike of crime and GBV. So what is it that is different this morning and why is it important?
Stories are astonishingly significant. Even magical. And the stories we tell ourselves as South Africans (individually and collectively) are usually dire. On most days (even for the naturally hopeful) it’s difficult to perceive our national story as anything other than a bleak, horror tearjerker. But in the last 5 weeks we have been building towards another narrative with a miraculous plot twist. A story where the motley crew of good guys, taped together and exhausted, against all odds, shoulder to shoulder and with their backs to the wall, manage to pull off a last gasp victory when defeat seemed repeatedly inevitable. It wasn’t pretty, or elegant or even the best rugby (apparently) but it was full of defiance, wild and fierce: no you will not break us, not here, not today.
As @Mark Sham said on X “They have created a blueprint for what we can still achieve as a nation ‘although it doesn’t look likely.’” And therein lies the alchemy of this win: If a critical mass of the 62 000 000 South Africans can see themselves (even briefly) in the role of a conquering hero instead of a passive victim of circumstance, if they can glimpse the blueprint, there may be just enough impetus to wrestle something extraordinary, just before the final whistle, from the train wreck that should be South Africa. But we need to grab this spark of hope and fan it into a veld fire and we need to do it today, where we are with what we’ve got before it dies back into passivity. And we have to stop waiting for someone (politicians, big business, billionaires, someone who is better at being a responsible adult) to make it happen. Let’s use this moment of magic. Let’s make that win count.
“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”
― Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark