Y Henriksen, Gordon’s Bay
On May 7 1945, a month after Adolf Hitler committed suicide, the German High Command surrendered to the allied powers, thereby ending World War II.
Germany was virtually destroyed, massed bombing by allied planes, attacked on all sides there was nothing really to surrender.
Every city was a bombed-out ruin, there was no transport system, no industry and they had lost a whole generation of workers in the six years of war.
In August of 1945, American bombers dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200 000 Japanese in the process, and razing both cities to the ground.
One week later Japan surrendered.
If anything, Japan’s situation was even worse than that of Germany.
Forward to 1970, 25-years later. Germany was now leading the field in precision engineering, their motor cars, like Mercedes, BMW and Audi, were recognised as luxurious, powerful and reliable, and Volkswagen Beetles (Hitler’s Revenge) were seen in every country in the world.
Japan, meanwhile, had become the powerhouse in fields like photography, miniaturisation, and the infant computer industry.
Both nations had pulled themselves up from devastation to become self-sufficient and powerful.
In 1994 after a much longer, but less destructive “war” the ANC rose to power in a South Africa where everything still worked.
The infrastructure was intact, the roads, while not quite “autobahns” were well organised, well maintained and a pleasure to drive on.
Its railway system was ultra-efficient, punctual and well-run, the post office actually worked, when you flicked a switch the lights came on, your fridge froze your food, your stove warmed it and your radio and television entertained you.
One would therefore expect that 25 years later, the inheritors of this situation, if they followed the example of the Germans and Japanese, that South Africa would be a world leader, a shining Utopia, ultra efficient and wealthy beyond measure. Instead, it’s a shambolic mess where nothing works as it should, a huge proportion of its population is forced to live in horrendous conditions of poverty and starvation, and the world’s financial bodies classify us as “junk” – because that’s what we have become.
Instead of knuckling down to build on the foundation we inherited, instead of trying to create a bright future for our children, instead of protesting and sabotaging what we have – why can’t we all climb in together to fulfil the potential of this wonderful country in which we live.
Please, Mr Ramaphosa, stop trying to cover your rear every time anything goes wrong.
Stand up and take responsibility, be strong enough to do what you know is right, otherwise there’s no hope for us and where there is no hope all that’s left is despair.