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Lessons in pride: what we can learn from South Korea


Lessons in pride: what we can learn from South Korea

As our nation enters a new phase of recovery and hope, we could glean much from the exceptional success of the Korean people

Anant Singh

“I see only hope for our country, and that is when white men and black men, desiring neither power nor money, but desiring only the good for their country, come together to work for it”.
Reflecting on these words by Reverend Theophilus Msimangu in Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country, I write this piece for the love that I have for our beloved country.
Our nation has experienced the most tragic decade since the fall of apartheid. How did we, the beloved rainbow nation, full of potential and the promise of a bright future, sink into the abyss of immorality through greed, corruption and the inhumanity of a few individuals?
For almost the entire past decade we have lived our lives amid a national tragedy.   
I do not have the answers to the questions. But each of us, as South Africans, has to use our rights as enshrined in our constitution, to take more control of our destiny.We have to do this as a nation united, and we have to do it now. We owe it to the young people of our country and future generations.
Our new democracy was built on the Freedom Charter and is guided by the constitution. These documents codified the principles that were to guide our democratic order. 
Unfortunately, the principles of these sacred documents have largely been put in the back burner by many, including some of those who helped create them.
So quickly they forget.
These documents should continue to guide us as a nation, now and forever. 
I write this from Pyeongchang in South Korea.  It is fascinating to observe from a distance the transformation taking place in South Africa as Jacob Zuma resigned and our nation enters a new phase of recovery and, once again, of hope.I commend President Cyril Ramaphosa, and all those involved, including opposition parties, in peacefully navigating this process, and again we hope, we all hope, that this time events will ultimately result in an outcome beneficial to all the people of our country.Simultaneously, in Seoul this week several high-profile individuals in important positions in the South Korean government and from major corporations were being convicted for their involvement in corruption, including matters involving the state.Former head of state Park Geun-hye was impeached and incarcerated.  Just this week her co-conspirators, Choi Soon-sil and Shin Dong-bin, were convicted and sentenced to 20 years and two-and-a-half years respectively.These convictions came about because of “people power”,  because once again the people spoke in a loud and unified voice and rebelled against gross social injustice.
I believe this process, whereby the people make their voices heard, should commence once again in South Africa, because when we join together and clearly articulate our rejection of corruption in high places, then justice, freedom and good will prevail.
How to build a nation
South Africa is a beautiful land with incredible people who need to be given the opportunity to succeed.  We could learn a great deal, in fact, from the exceptional success of the Korean people in developing and building their nation into one of the most formidable and powerful democratic economies in the New World.South Korea is a country that limped out of a devastating war with hundreds of thousands of its citizens killed.  With very little resources, the South Korean people picked themselves up and began the journey towards developing their nation, overcoming adversity and autocrats in order to emerge as the modern nation we all admire today. 
The foundation for this achievement was education, national pride and hard work. 
I see the thousands of volunteers working here at the Winter Olympic Games and marvel at how committed and passionate they are, even though they are earning no salary.They are learning from the experience, which is making them stronger, and out of this experience new and better leaders will emerge in the future. 
Our focus, too, needs to be directed toward our youth and to developing their talents in all ways possible.
Our hard work toward building a revitalised New South Africa begins today. We can only be optimistic for our future with our new president in charge.
Follow Madiba's lead
In the year we celebrate Madiba’s 100th birthday, all South Africans should follow his example and embark upon a selfless journey to improve the lives of the less fortunate, by making a meaningful contribution, no matter how small,  by committing ourselves and partnering with government and its programmes to make our land beautiful and beloved again.
Madiba said in his inauguration’s speech in 1994: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.”
I will hasten to add that we should never allow corruption, greed, inhumanity and disrespect by any individual against the wellbeing of our people.
The occurrences of Valentine’s Day 2018 will be forever remembered.
In conclusion I would like to quote from Cry, The Beloved Country once again: “But there is only one thing that has power completely, this is love, because when a man loves, he seeks no power and therefore he has power.”
Let freedom reign!

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