There is a lot of pressure on us as young people today, especially because of what our parents had to go through so that we may enjoy the freedoms we enjoy today. We have an obligation to their blood, sweat and tears to do all the things they could not do and more. To succeed where they could not compete and to triumph where they were forced to fail. The thing about coming from a legacy of warriors and heroes is that you have to keep that flame burning. You have to show them that it was not all in vein and that it is appreciated. Our parents deserve to know that we will become the black diamonds they weathered us to become. But success is not easy, and failure is unbearable.
A black diamond is a stone in a transitional carbon state between graphite and pure diamond. Though rare and considered to be very beautiful, black diamonds are not as valuable as pure diamonds because of their coal insertions – an imperfection formed during crystal formation. But in South Africa, when people hear the term Black Diamond, they most often think of flashy cars, BEE and expensive suits. It conjures up an image of an exclusive club with a strict dress code and a big Right of Admission is Reserved sign on the door, keeping everyone who doesn’t fit that mould out. The Black Diamonds are said to represent an elite breed of young black people, earning at least R7 000 a month and collectively holding roughly a third of South Africa’s buying power. Nearly half of these Black Diamonds are said to be found in Gauteng and live in previously “whites only” suburbs. They are the Successful Ones.
But success has different meanings to different people. For some, it represents reaching a physical, financial (Black Diamond) status, whereas others attribute success to more abstract accomplishments such as spiritual, emotional or mental achievement. In essence though, regardless of what one defines their success to be, it is a triumph over an obstacle. A graduation, a promotion, a spiritual breakthrough or overcoming a crippling fear; success represents progression and an opening of new doors. It is a fluid double-edged sword that can lead to further triumphs or painful downfalls. And most importantly, it can never be achieved in isolation. Personal targets are set according to exposure to external criteria and resources such as history, peers, current environments and religious doctrines. The challenge is not to be pressurised by other people’s standards of success because what is good for one person is not necessarily good for another.
According to a Nigerian proverb: the axe forgets but the tree remembers, meaning when something significant happens, it is the one who is on the receiving end who remembers it the most. For an axe, it is natural to strike a tree, but for the tree, the effects will linger on into the future. It will require healing and growth and adjustment. We are the fruits that fell off hacked trees; the not-yet diamonds. Our heritage is full of coals and our parents’ dreams and struggles for us are the purest of diamonds. Without forgetting, we should realise that we can’t change the nature of the axe, but we can learn to toughen up. Our role is to remember to conquer. To choose our battles wisely and realise that not all doors are worth walking through. But most importantly, we should never over-value ourselves.