We can use difference in SA as a constructive force
So what will it take? How would we make it work? How do we move 4.5 million people thousands of kilometres in as short a time as possible?
A quick internet search tells us that the Airbus A380-800 carries 800 passengers (in a single class arrangement) with a flight time of 11 to 12 hours to London.
The largest cruise ship, the Symphony of the Seas (five times the size of the Titanic), can carry 6,800 passengers and, at 22 knots speed, would take about 10 days to get to Australia.
Ethiopian Airlines owns a fleet of more than 100 planes and it only took it 70 years to move 10.6 million passengers.
Perhaps the OOCL Hong Kong container ship that carries 21,413 (20ft) containers is a more pragmatic option – assuming containers can be converted into self-contained living units.
Hannibal used elephants, the Romans built roads, the Atlantic slave traders solved it by stacking humans layer upon layer, the British colonial forces crammed thousands into their South African concentration camps, the USSR did it in the Siberian winters and Nazi Germany perfected it.
There are some side issues to solve, such as what if someone doesn’t want to go?
Maybe he has a dentist appointment next week or simply feels he belongs?
How to feed all those people their five portions of fruit and veggies a day, what to do with pets and teddy bears, how much toilet paper would be needed?
Why consider the logistics of moving 4.5 million people?
According to official statistics, that’s the estimated number of white people still living in SA.
And moving them from here to Europe, the US, Australia or wherever will require some 5,625 Airbus A380s or 662 cruise ships or, at a squeeze, 53 container ships.
Far-fetched? Or is it simply a matter of time before our current “give-us-white-land” train reaches an inevitable future stop on its current track?
That the modern “final solution” to solving the problem colonialism and apartheid left us is to remove the problem child from the family?
We’ve already reached the point where whites are blamed for SA’s poverty, unemployment, inequality and the general nose-dive of the economy.
In the mind of those who subscribe to this anger-shrouded vision, SA is an island.
We don’t need the world and its trinkets.
We are perfectly capable of doing this on our own. They are the problem. Once we ship out the whites, everything will go back to the way it was and we’ll finally have peace and prosperity. Then we will be free to do our own thing.
Except, of course, for those pesky Indians, and hardy Somalis, and Arabs, and Jews, albinos, witches, coconuts and – while we’re at it – the whole LGBTQI+ bunch and feminists (definitely feminists).
They should go too.
Peace and prosperity will be upon us when everyone around us is a copy and paste of what we see in the mirror.
It’s not what the Freedom Charter or the constitution was aiming for, but hey, let’s get real here – its 2018 and we need to move on.
When we’re done with land, should prosperity still not happen, we’ll take back businesses, and then homes, and then ...
It’s not a unique script. It’s not just the Zimbabwean model.
It’s a human model that has played out in similar ways in Germany, Rwanda, Uganda, India/Pakistan, Korea, Cyprus, Palestine/Israel and now America with its anti-immigrant zeal.
Once it gains momentum, the blame game is insatiable, always hungry, always on the lookout for its next “they” meal.
It is hugely irresponsible (but profitable) to tell a terminally ill person that all will be fine if he or she simply takes the miracle cure you’re selling him or her.
It’s borderline criminal to tell a person suffering from depression (in all its forms) that it’s all in the mind, that thinking positive thoughts will bring instant happiness.
But it is the nature of the consumer world we live in.
Marketing doesn’t seek to develop understanding; it simply tries to hook you into endlessly consuming the product.
Be it sugar that you don’t need, nicotine you can’t cope without or political sound bites that reduce our complex world into 30-second painless solutions.
SA is ill, possibly terminally. It’s been coming a long time – some 366 years to be exact, but we’re here.
We’re sitting across from the doctor, in her comfortable chair, and all the blood tests and X-rays and cameras down the throat tell us the same thing. We are sick. It’s serious.
We’re likely to die soon, unless we change something.
And that something won’t be easy, nor will it be comfortable, had it been we would have done so already.
That “something” we face is agreeing on the “we” and the membership criteria of this ingroup.
If we take the constitution’s “South Africa belongs to all who live in it” seriously, if that’s our “we”, it means addressing the concerns of all within that “we” group.
That means resolving the question of equitable land use and distribution; of access for all to quality medical care and education; stopping the 20,000 annual murders of our people (not just subsets of that number); finding constructive ways to deal with inherited privilege; rewarding effort, experience and skill in ways that don’t condemn others to poverty traps; and, importantly, taking a long, hard look at why our institutions and professions were so easily captured.
It means acting in the interest of all, which means giving President (not Chairman) Cyril Ramaphosa time to effect change. It means holding up both Eskom and Steinhoff, and saying neither has worked so how do we do it differently?
Perhaps it’s a utopian notion to think we can work together as a nation, that we can use difference as a constructive force and realise the strength of diversity (like the natural ecosystems that surround us)? The alternative?
Start building some big ships – we’re going to have to move a lot of people against their will and there will be no room for teddy bears...