In a fortnight which has witnessed national turmoil, a heightened public consciousness and the triggering of a rolling mass action campaign which continues today, there has been little cause to find a mood upliftment.
The only person who seems utterly distanced and indifferent to the clamour playing out around him is the man – the nation’s leader – who is the prime focus of it.
And yet – amid all the shouting, derision and division – a significant group of mostly young South Africans has also been quietly demonstrating the values, courage and determination which also remind us of our ability to strive for a dream – to cross a seemingly impossible finish line.
In the past days, we have been carrying inspiring stories of newly graduated students – and those who have helped pave their paths – who are proof positive that we have among us a generation whose attitude reflects sorely-needed qualities of nation-building.
Two struggling brothers overcoming all odds and – with help from an NMMU call centre operator – achieving diplomas with which they will train emerging farmers; a young man juggling three jobs to support himself and assist his ailing father, obtaining a master’s degree; and the pair of visually impaired graduates, initially denied entry, achieving their goals after the university reversed its decision.
And all this amid the disrupted campus environment of the #FeesMustFall movement.
Yes, we are an unsettled nation right now from the marches to Nelson Mandela Bay’s Vuyisile Mini Square to those on the Union Buildings, and that in itself is a healthy sign given a stormy climate that may – or may not – portend change.
But let us take encouragement from those whose less agitated steps across a stage to collect hard-earned certificates are making an equally cogent statement.
They are quite literally in a class of their own.