The advent of social media has been both welcomed and ,at times, criticized. I, like a lot of the people I know, form part of the former group. Not so long ago, it would have been quite a formidable task to find out the latest movement on the stock markets; receive blow by blow account of the most talked about political happenings of the day or how far Brazil are in their preparations for the 2014 football world cup. But today just by scrolling through one’s facebook page one gets to read all of aforementioned and more with minimum effort. Such is the efficiency of social media. So, it wasn’t a surprise that one followed much of the Proteas’ heartbreaking loss at the hands of the Black Caps of New Zealand in the ICC Cricket World Cup through ‘friends’ updates of the match’s progress on facebook. Needless to say, the C-word (political correctness for Chokers) was a permanent feature in the updates. To say that national cricket team’s performance was a disappointment would be an understatement of the worst order.
Failure or success deferred, as I prefer to call it, isn’t easy to accept especially in the realm of the sporting world. A life led without challenges is an ideal one and, perhaps, a boring one. Struggle is the midwife of the tales of the triumph of the human over seemingly insurmountable obstacles. If everything was to be a walk in the park then we wouldn’t be tested and that in itself means we wouldn’t know to which extent we are willing and able to go to realize that which we idealize. Opposition, whether tangible or otherwise, then becomes the examination to one’s ability to turn imaginations into manifestation. The inability to realize whatever target that’s been set doesn’t make one a failure. It’s the decision to choose to not continue trying that renders one a failure. In fact, it’s much easier to quit than to try again. Because those who do make an effort to challenge an opposing force or a status quo have to be prepared to get used to being reminded how many times they have tried but have nothing to show for it. In other words how many times they have choked. To say previous fruitless attempts have no bearing what so ever in the conduct of those who seek to rewrite long standing histories would be disingenuous, if not naive. The very reason people take a second or third stab it things they’ve been unable to do in the first attempt is because they feel that they are capable of achieving whatever it is that they’ve set out to do. It’s perhaps the manner in which they approach situation that’s the weak link not the capability. History is decorated with heart wrenching tales of people who’ve locked horns with an opposing force and lived to tell the tale even when it seemed almost impossible that they would succeed. It’s not unusual to hear older people say that, at some point, they never thought a democratic South Africa would be realized in their life time such was the brutality of the old order. 35 years ago, if you’d said that in 2011 the Chinese economy would be the second largest in the world you’d have been labelled as mad. The same could be said of India and Brazil’s fledging economic might. After all, they, along with China and Russia, produced more US dollar millionaire new entrants that made it into the Forbes’ Rich List of the year.
The first FIFA World Cup was staged in 1930 in Uruguay but Spain, who were hosts in the 1982 edition, had to wait until South Africa 2010 to make both their first semi final and final appearance and were subsequent winners of the tournament. Until then La Furia Roja, as the Spainish national football team is known, along with their Iberian rival Portugal and the Netherlands, who they beat in the final, were known as the bridesmaids of world football. The likes of Oprah Winfrey, one of the most watched and listened to people on Earth, overcame an abusive childhood to owing her own television network. The City Press, a Sunday newspaper, recently ran a story of Kennedy Gihana, a Rwandan citizen, who barely escaped the genocide of 1994. He walked from Malawi to Zambia to Zimbabwe and eventually made his way to South Africa. He found work as a security guard and registered with the University of South Africa and later the University of Pretoria for an LLB degree. Today he owns a law firm. His story is similar to that of many ‘ordinary’ people. A lot of us can attest to being brought up through the means of tenacious grandparents’ small scale entrepreneurial exploits but when put together they have made an invaluable contribution in our lives. It’s that unrelenting pursuit for liberty from whatever challenging circumstance that may seeks to chain one to its ‘fate’ that individuals are able to develop themselves and those that surround them. The acclaimed jazz artist and academic, Wynton Marsalis, reminds us in his “Freedom Is In The Trying” that “Even for the righteous, freedom is not certain.” But that ought to not discourage us as it seemingly hasn’t the Proteas, who since the 1992 World Cup haven’t won a knockout stage match. As we continue to heap all manner of criticism on the Proteas, we ought to remember to be just as critical to ourselves when we , in the theatre of everyday life, don’t live up to expectations and suddenly give up because we see no propitious outcomes in sight even after numerous attempt. To try to attain something is essentially to explain in action the difference between improbable and impossible.