I write to you as a child of this nation, a child who once upon a time admired you…
I was in grade 8 when I first met you. You were not even president then. I know that you won’t remember our meeting – but I do. I was the one who stood in front of you with big dreams and with hope in her eyes thinking that one day when you became president that you would make a big difference in my country. You have made a difference… but just not in the way I wanted. Right now your difference is more negative than positive.
I was the one who couldn’t stop smiling because I was so excited to meet you. I couldn’t wait to go home and tell my family that I had just met our future president.
I did not understand politics then. I was a child who just believed… but today I’m even ashamed to say that I stood in the same room with you.
Yesterday my daughter asked me a simple question about you, but I am ashamed to say that I couldn’t even answer it. She asked: “Mommy, what does our president do?” I couldn’t answer this because I knew that explaining what a president does to a 3-year-old wouldn’t be describing you at all. I would have been lying to her and giving her false hope – just like the hope that I had many years ago! I found myself in a dilemma. I could tell her what a president should do, not what you do.
How do I make her understand that what is happening in our country isn’t normal?
Do you really want the kids of South Africa to remember you as the man who shattered their hope?
As the man who caused disruption to the nation that the late Dr Nelson Mandela worked so hard to unite?
Now, I write to you as a concerned mother of two children, a mother who thinks about leaving this country every single day. My country, the country that birthed me, moulded me and shaped me into the adult I am. The country that I was proud to sing the national anthem for and boast about to friends overseas.
How am I supposed to ignore the things that are happening around me?
When last have you walked on the streets of your country and seen the reality of South Africa?
Have you ever seen the bags of filth that lie on the corner of the pavement, or the homeless man who is searching through that filth to find something to eat but instead finds a foetus wrapped up in paper?
Do you care about the taxi driver who almost knocked down that homeless man because of negligent and reckless driving in order to cut through traffic – just so he could get enough passengers for the day in order to make ends meet at the end of the month?
Do you see the woman around the corner who is waiting for the robot to turn green but instead has a gun pointed at her through the window, a thief demanding her cell phone while her newborn baby sleeps in the backseat?
How am I supposed to ignore the fact that crime is increasing at a worrisome rate and you turn a blind eye to it? Am I supposed to ignore the fact that teenage girls and babies are being raped and murdered and yet you say nothing about it?
How am I supposed to ignore the fact that kids in our country go to bed hungry and die because of starvation and lack of medical care, yet politicians spend hundreds and thousands of rands on parties and new cars?
I am not going to tell you how to run your country but I am going to tell you what I think – as a mother in this country.
I think about how helpless our children are to all these issues and how much responsibility rests on our shoulders to try and change the current situation.
I think about how selfish it is for the kids who have to work from an early age and miss out on their childhood to be the breadwinners at home.
I think about the young boys who are lured into crime just so they can find a place to stay and food to eat.
I think about the kids that cannot afford school fees and textbooks.
I think about the house robberies that happen in my neighbourhood and how my children’s lives are in danger – even in my own home.
Every day there’s a new battle to fight.
I have this sinking feeling of dread and sadness.
Have you ever thought about just sitting down and absorbing what’s happening around you? Have you ever thought about the legacy that you are leaving to your grandkids?
I’m not here to swear you or make fun of you because it breaks my heart to make fun of the person I’m “supposed” to admire.
Yesterday I visited a school in a rural area, a school that had your picture placed at the entrance of the hall in a gold frame because they still have hope… Hope that one day you would visit and help build the town. But you and I both know that isn’t happening anytime soon because the money that was supposed to help these people is already used for another frivolous event or tedious meeting in which nothing constructive gets done – perhaps it is even in the budget for caviar and champagne at your next party.
Your people are screaming in your ear and you choose to mute it.
As I sit here with my 6-month-old on my lap, I find myself coming to tears at the realization that South Africa isn’t a home for my family anymore.
I am powerless to put any real change into action without you.
I am just a stay at home mom who is writing a letter to the president at 11 am in the morning – a letter that he may never read.
So when you are eating your buffet lunch in your fancy house, I want you to stop and listen.
Listen to the chaos that is happening outside. The chaos that you created and walked away from.
To me, you will always be the president that made the country tumble. The one that made mothers cry and fathers beg.
The President who broke my hope…