The Great African Society, by Hlumelo Biko
Hlumelo Biko's book, The Great African Society, is a must-read especially for young people to enrich their appreciation of where we come from as South Africans. For the older generations it will provide a tool to take stock of how far we have travelled and what more still needs to be done.
There is a growing public debate about the type of society South Africa is becoming and who or what is to blame for the failure to live up to its lofty ideals. The ANC Youth League has represented my generation in this debate, calling for economic freedom in this lifetime through nationalisation. Young intellectuals like Vuyo Jack, Itumeleng Mahabane and Eusebius McKaiser have been urging a more nuanced form of socio-economic redress grounded in an understanding of South Africa's constitutional framework and our macro-economic constraints. Many young people I have spoken to seem torn between an emotionally charged response to the nationalisation argument, the sub-text of which is that it is black people's turn to enjoy the spoils of the country, and a more reasoned view that any form of redress has to happen in a manner that does not set South Africa's overall economic development back a few decades. My generation's contributions to this debate have been hampered by the fact that many of us have not taken the time to repay the investment made in our education (by our families and taxpayer money). I feel particularly guilty of this failure to repay this investment, because the investments made in me by my parents involved the ultimate form of sacrifice. Our failure to adequately contribute to the current debate can easily be misconstrued as a form of acquiescence to some of the terrible things being carried out in the name of South Africa's youth. If we care about our future we have to assume custodianship of the direction our country is being steered in. This involves having uncomfortable debates with our elders. The Great African Society represents my attempt to show that today's economic redistribution debate is a continuation of the inter-racial battle for scarce economic resources that has been fought over the last two centuries. This book seeks to flesh out the socio-economic consequences of this battle for today's society, particularly the tendency for the private and public sectors to view each other as adversaries as opposed to allies in the creation of shared growth. Ultimately the book attempts to plot a different path forward predicated on achieving economic freedom for all South Africans. This work champions the targeted use of private sector capacity to deliver goods and services to poor communities as part of a reorganised form of Black Economic Empowerment as a central platform for a new social compact. I believe that our inability to correctly frame our challenges in the context of our history leads to a short-sighted form of analysis that often lends itself to false validations of long-held racial superiority or inferiority complexes. My generation is the bridge between the generation responsible for our liberation and the generation of 'born frees'. We will be left with the burden of explaining to our children and grandchildren why we could not take the platform given to us by Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki to generate shared economic prosperity. It will not be enough for us to say that the previous generation overstayed their welcome and that our calls for a generational mix within the country's leadership fell on deaf ears.We have to roll up our sleeves and contribute to the current struggle for economic prosperity in meaningful ways. Our professional lives will not provide refuge against the future backlash by less privileged members of our generation as they rebel against a society that gives them welfare grants instead of economic freedom. My hope is that my book can offer courage to some and information to others to use their talents to make their own contributions. Freedom lingers sparingly in societies that do not nurture her. (...)
This is an excerpt from the book: The Great African Society, by Hlumelo Biko.
Title: The Great African Society
Subtitle: A Plan for a Nation Gone Astray
Author: Hlumelo Biko
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers
Johannesburg & Cape Town, South Africa 2013
ISBN 9781868425211 / ISBN 978-1-86842-521-1
Softcover, 15x23 cm, 293 pages
Biko, Hlumelo im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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