It is human nature to take lessons from the previous generation and use their strategies as a way of life. This has been noted within the black society mainly because we have been oppressed as the nation for centuries now. Within the political context, the black society has, from time to time, had to fight against oppression and more or less similar strategies have been adopted from previous generations in order to gain liberation.
Fast forward to our current generation, we live in a conflicting situation which is displayed as freedom since the end of apparent ostensible physical oppression. This however has transited to being more of economic oppression as we [the black nation] have been largely deprived of opportunities and means to succeed and proceed to total emancipation. From this situation a lot of cultures were developed as solutions to escape poverty and continuous depression that was put upon us psychologically by the oppressive regime.
One of the cultures that can be noted is the heavy drinking of our society which has been in many instances displayed as a form of “celebration” or “success” (context taking part). During the oppressive regimes, this latter mentioned was used by the black society as a form to numb the pain of oppression that was experienced; as drinking plays a role in helping one “forget” the situation for the period of indulgence. Noting that the physical oppression experienced was forcing a lot of people into situational depression.
The current generation (youth) has adopted this culture of heavy drinking and this happens continuously throughout the year but it is excessive particularly during the “festive” season. Whenever this matter is raised to address our youth, you hear phrases like “we are rewarding the body”, “we have worked hard we deserve a nice time”, etc. There are all kinds of excuses to ensure the sustainability of the drinking culture. The question I am often left with in mind is “What are we really benefitting from this drinking culture as a nation except for broken marriages, abuse, alcoholism, irresponsible sexual activities, and so on and so forth?” It should be noted that from all this misery Breweries continue to make their profit in TRILLIONS with the black society being their number one customers. We really need to sit and do a serious self-introspection and really question this drinking culture and really start channeling the funds into building generational wealth which will benefit our children and further generations. Which brings me to my other observed culture which we continue sustaining yet not using it to our advantage – STOKVELS.
Stokvels were founded within the black communities back in the day when the black society took an entrepreneurial approach to survive and formed this “group funding” model. It was a means of survival as they had no access to the economy of the country (not that we do now but anyway). Stokvels have somehow managed to take the black society through and they have always been a means of survival (a necessity).
As the current generation that is not necessarily experiencing APPARENT physical oppression, we have somewhat access to information and with that we have broken few barriers towards our economic liberation. We have to question the modus operandi of stokvels which is well captured by Khulani Sikhosana when he said in his facebook status “We don’t need more Beer or Grocery Stokvels in the black community, however we need more black business Stokvels”. We have to invest our energy in re-channeling the stokvels into helping us build a more progressive nation and instill within this a culture of building generational wealth. I learned of one stokvel which made me very happy as it grew from men buying each other expensive bottles of whiskey to buying each other one cow per month. We cannot continue to allow stokvels be based on “hand to mouth” approach because they are a creation which has taken the black society through a lot and can lead us to emancipation.
While on that we also need to sit, introspect and challenge the way we as blacks do our weddings; is the hyper spending necessary especially considering our current economic position. Being from a rural area I fully understand the logic behind “celebrating” love with the community at large but considering our capital position, is it worth it to enter marriages with debts which result in pain and suffering leading to endless divorces. We will however speak of this one day.
With all that has been said we have seen a lot of cultures we adopted from the previous generations and they have proven to work, are we ready to face the radical change in how we do things. Our modus vivendi has proven largely to not be feasible nor working for us. It further results in us shifting from our African values, customs and principles – for example UBUNTU – we therefore have to really be honest with ourselves and adopt within everything we do the sense of sustainability and generational wealth building.
Anyway we will get there, we will win this battle. “Afrika my beginning, Afrika my end.” IZWE LETHU.
By Jabulane Tshabalala