I hardly ever took time to think about the future of South Africa. This changed a few months ago after I attended a workshop at the Nelson Mandela Foundation on the theme of: reimagine the state and society.
The purpose of the workshop was to activate our capacity to reimagine our society, our future and ourselves as part of that future. It was a stimulating process for each of us attendees to tap into our imaginative spaces; each with our backgrounds, experiences and professions shared how the future looked for each of us. There were some common visions amongst us, but most of us saw a different South Africa from the outlook of our prejudice, stereotypes and our diverse levels of creative imagination.
The most important question that each South African has to ask still remains to be – in what ways can the South African society be reimagined? Is there room for the creation of new instruments with which to carry out this task of reimagining South Africa? As much as no creative endeavour towards the future is ever complete without a simultaneous reckoning with the past, it matters for us to accept that kind of past we come from in our individual walk of life. Is it one heavy loaded by memories and actions of racism, hate and disregard of human rights? Or is it one built on fear of the oppressor; being a victim of atrocities of mass violence and injustices and growing up in a community experiencing severe circumstances of poverty? Each of us have a starting point in our relation to the past.
However, every point of beginning is valid in the reimagination of more free, developed and active society. The reconstruction of thoughts about a new society requires us to fully engage with the present; being sensitive and aware of the current political, social and economic situation happening in our communities. For example, it is without a doubt that those excluded from the activities of the economic in this present moment are immediately rendered unable and ineffective in the reimagining of a new society because they are disempowered in their potential to be structurally and institutionally featured.
Much thought needs to be well thought-out around the empowerment of ordinary South Africans in order to increase their capacity to creatively reimagine a new society in which they feel included, part of and take pride in. Insofar as equipping them with information and experiences that will open them up to the criticism and reformation beyond the restraints of legalities or social norms. Enhancing the collective participation of all citizens in corrective imagination is a good start in ensuring that South Africans feel optimistic about history and meaning making.