Have you ever read a book or seen a movie that made you wish you could be a part of it? Seen a character or situation that moved you so much that you saw glimpses of yourself in them and wanted nothing more that to lose yourself in that world and claim it as your own? Well 2010 is set to be that movie! This year has been ear-marked to be the Golden Globes of South African history and everyone is said to be nominated. The beginning of a new year always marks that refreshing first page of a new chapter. A chance to remedy, clarify, improve, re-invent…whatever! New beginnings.
For South Africans, this particular year is Cape Town in White Wedding: everyone is anxiously holding their breaths, hoping that Elvis will make it to the church on time. Ever since May 2004, when FIFA announced that South Africa would be the first African nation to host the soccer World Cup, every South African (and probably many Africans) raced back to their drawing boards and brainstormed their “big idea” on how to get in on the 2010 action. Even that sports-loathing sista who happens to own a flat in Hatfield couldn’t help but develop a love for diski (and dollar-paying tenants of course). And why not? Our government promised us employment, urban renewal, less crime, better taxis and the Gautrain. Our government promised us a production like nothing we’ve ever seen before; and front row seats for everyone.
Sadly though, the large majority of South Africans will remain unaffected by 2010. Newtown will get a few splashes of paint while Hillbrow remains pretty much unaffected. Stadia will be built, after which, employment contracts will be terminated; taxi drivers will still be taxi drivers; crime won’t change much and the Gautrain probably won’t be ready in time for the World Cup. After all that, 2010 will end on the 31st of December and life will go on. As wonderful as this event will be (God willing), the ordinary man who doesn’t have an apartment to rent out, or artefacts to sell, or skills to showcase will survive 2010 in the same way he survived 2009…barely.
There is a saying in Swahili, which when translated says: the one who milks the cow is not the same person who removes ticks from the cow. Basically, what this saying means is that is in a task (or society at large), we are each entrusted with one or more task. Some tasks will appear to be more glamorous than others but all are equally important in ensuring that everyone gets milk. There are people who will be entrusted with great success this year and there are those who will be tasked with great burden patience. Those who will be great, will make millions, become famous, touch nations and be recorded as the victors of 2010. Some of them will work hard to attain this greatness and others will stumble upon it but all will serve to inspire others whose time has not yet come. They will be that sliver of hope that reminds us that things aren’t so bad. And the virtuous ones… they will act as reminders that the road ahead is still long. That man who will work hard and still just manage to scrape through 2010, will be our motivation for 2011. He will remind the government of their promises to us. He will remind neighbours of their responsibility to each other and he will teach us that we all move at different paces and cannot all reach the finish line at the same time.
Obviously no one wants to be one plucking the ticks, but somebody’s got to do it. Otherwise the cow will die. And perhaps we take comfort in this small fact: that no journey is meaningless, no task too menial. The way I see it is that you and I should for a moment (until June maybe) forget about what FIFA will leave in our 2010 Christmas stockings, and concentrate on the possibilities this year (decade) has in store for us. As individuals, outside the soccer-hype. Some will finally graduate. Others will get married or fall in love; start families or businesses; or make that long anticipated trip to Mecca. 2010 marks the beginning of the 21st century’s second decade and the possibilities are endless.