SA's future is in the hands of activists

September 18, 2017

The Sunday Independent / 17 September 2017, 08:05AM / WILLIAM GUMEDE


Unheralded local civic, community and civil society activists, leaders and peace-builders, working at the coalface with local communities where broken families, decay and failing public services have plunged swaths of communities into hopelessness, apathy and violence, need extraordinary resilience to keep going.


From preventing political assassinations in KwaZulu-Natal, deadly trade union rivalry in Marikana, gang-warfare on the Cape Flats, and xenophobic attacks in Alexandra, such civic, community and civil society activists also have to deal with their personal, family and public service delivery troubles.


They are often more trusted by the community as credible peacemakers than the local police or elected representatives.

In times of strife community activists must seek support, collaboration and strike alliances to reach a common goal, argues William Gumede. Collage: Elvin Nethononda


South Africa desperately needs resilient local civic, community and civil society activists, leaders and peace-builders to continue to help local communities empower themselves.


Resilience is variously described as the ability to bounce back from setbacks, to overcome deep-seated challenges thrown into one’s path and to be able to improvise in moments of terrifying crises by coming up with innovative solutions.


Diane Coutu, in an article in the Harvard Business Review, argues that among the key characteristics resilient people possess are “a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values, that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to