Excising dictatorship from the body-politic

IT is perchance a Herculean and gargantuan task fighting dictatorship from a distance.


There’s a tendency, obviously by those who remained behind, to monopolise and personalise the struggle against oppression and dictatorship.

To write from the diaspora is viewed as inadequate and unnecessary. In more lapidary terms, only those in the country are considered courageous and anyone trying to express their feelings, views and opinions from across the border is said to be a coward, a cyber activist and of course a toothless bulldog. Writing for me started before I left and has never stopped ever since.

I’m quite sure that we all have a role to play towards democratisation of our country and this isn’t something that can be affected by one’s current location and/or situation.

I am not a political expert neither am I a journalist. I’m simply a social worker who learnt about social ideals. Regarding these, Jane Addams posits that they are as old as the Bible. As old as the commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself”.

I am morbidly aware of the fact that trustworthy social workers have the opportunity to improve people’s living conditions and that respect understands that all people have value as human beings.

I believe there is an incumbent need for us as citizens to challenge social injustice, pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu rightly observed, “If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”.

The time has come and now is for us to take a stand-all alone, if need be, against oppression in our country. Citizenship has been recognised as an important component of good character since the time of ancient Greece.

Is it not the right time for us to treat with painstaking care and with an eye for proper details J. F. Kennedy’s words of wisdom?, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

Sometimes being a good citizen means you are loyal to your nation or local community-and sometimes it means your highest loyalties belong to the Earth’s entire human community. Citizenship may mean loyalty to our own nation-but it may also ask us to extend our loyalties beyond our own nation and consider what is best for all the people of the world. Let’s spare a thought for the oppressed people of Zimbabwe as well as those in Burundi, Egypt, Angola, Swaziland, Gambia, etc.

We also need to think of victims of white supremacy in the United States as well as terror-stricken people in countries like Kenya, Somalia, Mali, Nigeria, Tunisia, Libya, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.

We have rotten miscreants that have established themselves as a privileged class sitting on the back of the rest of us. We need to be more assertive in confronting injustice wherever it is found. Dictatorship by its nature is behavior that is intended to cause harm to people or damage to property.

This behavior includes but is not restricted to verbal abuse, threats, or violent acts. Often, our reaction when our rights are being violated is to fight back or retaliate. The basic message of tyranny is that my feelings, thoughts and beliefs are very important while yours are unimportant and inconsequential.

I believe we must do things differently. We have been acting passively and in a non-assertive manner. This behaviour is undesirable because we allow our rights to be violated.

We resent our oppressors but we are also angry with ourselves for not standing up for our rights. We need to stand up for our rights in such a way that is respectful of other people.

Let us now and for all time extract from our body-politic as a dentist extracts a stinking tooth all our oppressors. The struggle continues unabated!

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