The 'flight of flamingos' dream for South Africa
The trouble with marking specific days on the calendar as remembrance days is that over time the meaning starts to be far removed from what the day signifies or was intended to signify. We go to Halloween parties without giving a second thought to its origins and ties to the celtic festival of Samhain ( A celebration and remembrance of the dead due to the belief that the dead would at some point return to earth), we do fun runs on freedom day without remembering that at some point a whole majority of people could not vote, we go to concerts on women’s day and braais on heritage day with no knowledge or interest on the impacts of the Group Areas Act of 1950 and spending little time celebrating different beliefs and traditions in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all its people. Day of reconciliation is no different. For many, the day is synonymous with a great jol. It officially marks the beginning of the festive season and welcomes that rush of excitement as we look forward to leaving spreadsheets, assignments and chores behind and charge forth towards long beach days, great feasts and parties of a lifetime. Don’t get me wrong reader, I love chill vibes as much as the next guy, I do however want you to take a few seconds and redirect your focus away from self and onto other things that matter.
When you google ‘day of reconciliation’ Wikipedia does not waste any time in explaining “The day of reconciliation is a public holiday in South Africa held annually on 16 December. The holiday came into effect in 1994 after the end of apartheid, with the intention of fostering reconciliation and national unity’
In the post-apartheid context, South Africans need national unity now more than ever. After the first successful democratic elections, concepts of national unity and reconciliation seemed attractive and even possible. We had a lot of challenges to look forward to but like any young nation, we were ready, hopeful and excited. Over the next few years certain events made it easy for us to stick together in unison and keep the dream of the rainbow nation alive. We had the 1995 rugby world cup victory, we had the 2010 FIFA world cup to rally behind.
We were young, engaged, hopeful….naive. Twenty one years after our first democratic elections we are reaching that quarter life crisis were we realise that adulthood is not as fun or easy as we previously anticipated and we are growing more and more detached and disillusioned by the concepts of freedom, unity and being a rainbow nation. This is possibly the most appropriate time to go over the Mont Fleur scenarios. To summarise; between 1991-92 a diverse group of prominent South Africans met to present truths and debate around what the future of the country might look like. At the time they identified 4 possible scenarios and how these could play out. The ostrich, the lame duck, icarus and the flight of the flamingos. These four scenarios were layed out as possibilities of what the future of South Africa might look like.
The ostrich: this describes a situation in which a negotiated settlement would not be achieved and the country’s government continues to be non-representative.
The lame duck: this describes a situation in which a settlement is achieved but the transition to a new dispensation is slow and indecisive.
Icarus: this is a situation in which the transition is rapid but the new government unwisely pursues unsustainable, populist economic policies.
Flight of the flamingos: this is a situation in which the government’s policies are sustainable and the country takes a path of inclusive growth and democracy.
I don’t need to tell you where we are as a country right now, it’s as clear as daylight. What we need is more open and truthful conversations. Not ones which have been mandated by different interest groups focusing on our differences. But rather ones where participants engage in discussing something all should have an interest in: the future of South Africa. What we need is a roadmap for our future.