Thursday, August 13, 2009

Of Saunas, Steamrooms, and Politics

Yesterday while sitting in the sauna of my new gym a fellow user started up a conversation about politics and corruption in South Africa.

He went on to tell me that the North West Province, where I work now, is perhaps the most corrupt of the nine provinces in South Africa.

His comments made me think about a similar conversation I recently had with a man in the steamroom of my then gym in Kimberley.

He started talking about politics and corruption and said that he thought the Northern Cape Province among the most, if not the most, corrupt proving in South Africa.

There is nothing unusual about these conversations. Wherever people meet the talk usually turns to corruption or crime.

These issues are a mainstay of postapartheid life and the impact is felt across race/class lines.

Than man in the sauna and the man in the steamroom, one white and the other black, both argued that South Africa needed a renewal of spirit and purpose.

We cannot continue to live like this was the common refrain.

I like these quick kinds of interactions. People seemingly put their guard down and our common humanity presses against the pretenses of modern life.

Saunas and steamrooms are great places to talk politics and to think about cleansing and renewal ;)

Onward!

2 comments:

Dade said...

The agony of South Africa is heart-breaking.

But conversations like these that you describe are, perhaps, the initial movements toward healing and recovery.

There so too much talent and nobility in South Africa for it to remain in anarchy and chaos.

Keep it up, my friend.

Ridwan said...

I think you are right Dade. The way forward has to do with finding common ground.

It is important also that we recognize the past but also that we do not let it stop us from calling things as they are today.

Corruption is a massive problem among many other issues.

If we remain too stuck in not pointing the right fingers for fear of being labelled this or that then we remain stuck.

Corruption in my thinking is not a black or white issue. It is a South African dilemma.

Apartheid was absolutely a corrupt system and unfortunately so much of what is wrong now is about corruption.

"It is as it is" ... as a I heard a young woman remark to a friend at a coffee shop in Beaverton a few years ago.

"Deal with it", she added.

Wise words, still.

Peace brother.
Ridwan