Michelle Obama meets Oprah cartoon

Michelle Obama meets Oprah

Michelle Obama and Oprah in South Africa

A couple of the most powerful women in the world – Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey recently visited South Africa. The local media covered everything from wild speculation on whether president Jacob Zuma snubbed Michelle Obama to the stream of complaints about the Obama’s local security troupe clogging up the highways. They also covered what were some inspiring speeches – well, inspiring for some anyway.

The question of sincerity aside for the moment, Wonkie wondered when was the last time a leader of any sort said something truly inspiring when addressing South Africa. It certainly was not during the largely matter-of-fact, mostly content-free delivery of Zuma’s 2011 State of the Nation address.

Regardless, and as expected, as soon as Michelle Obama had concluded her speech at Soweto’s Regina Mundi Church, there were murmurs of discontent – from What on earth does she know about South Africa?, to what right does an American have to comment on our potential?

Mrs Obama’s message was simply that South Africans, particularly the youth, are the captains of their own ship. That they have the potential and power to do something great, and that they can realise their collective dream. Even if one takes her message at face value, it is a valuable and relevant one.

South Africa is faced with a leadership crisis of epic proportion. The public appears resigned and government leaders are more likely to be associated with trying to line their own pockets in some way, than with fulfilling an obligation to voters. Who in power remains credible in South Africa to deliver the message that Michelle Obama delivered? Julius Malema?

“You can be the generation that brings opportunity and prosperity to forgotten corners of the world and banishes hunger from this continent forever; you can be the generation that teaches the world that HIV is fully preventable and treatable, and should never be a source of shame; you can be the generation that holds your leaders accountable for open, honest government at every level, government that stamps out corruption and protects the rights of every citizen to speak freely, to worship openly, to love whomever they choose…”

South Africans would do well to listen to Mrs Obama’s message, and take its essence to heart. It actually does not matter if it was sincerely delivered or not, or whether the messenger was American or Mongolian. The message is true.

South African citizens need to claim ownership for the future of their country and realise that they are responsible for achieving their own dreams. Thugs in government need to be held accountable and crucified by the public when they don’t deliver what they were voted into power for. The national priority should be firmly focused on fixing education and forward-thinking, not on half-baked, quick-fix economic policies that have been proven to fail everywhere they have been implemented in the world. Unfortunately, nurturing a sense of entitlement without effort is where the youth of the country seem to be heading instead. That, sad to say, is the opposite direction to achieving the potential both Oprah and Michelle Obama allude to.

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Comments

  1. Mrs O speach is absolutely correct just a pity that it takes the 1st lady of the USA and not our own to bring about the potential that each one has. Unfortunately many probably laughs behind her back.

  2. Truly if those lovely sentiments can be put into ‘concrete’ we would have a lovely country.

  3. SpiritWolf says:

    Why would the sadly re-elected youth league president think this is a good speech, then he would have to admit the youth is undecuated and stupid, how else could someone in a country be re-elected when in his last term achieved nothing besides a costly youth party sending the wrong message and paid by tax payers that are not youth members anymore..someone should tell the youth they will be paying for next years party from their first pay checks tax…

  4. Two wise ladies. Each have and will continue to leave a positive mark on society.

  5. lagoon84 says:

    Yes we appriciate it to have such powerful ladies in the world in south africa its an honour maybe its our turn as the youth to develop,transform and intergrate from being lazy to south african heroes!!!

  6. Maybe Mrs Obama should have had a meeting with Julius and she would see what the country is up against and how he is poisoning the heads of the youth.

  7. many of the youth that we encounter differs like chalk & cheese. We sincerely hope and pray that those that have constructive positive ideals will be an example to those just laying about. At one of our traffic lights at a big shopping complex we often find school age children begging. We inform our local social department who takes them to a local day care centre operated and financed by our local community. Some of these children return on a daily basis where they are fed, schooling and housing arrangements made for them. Most of them disappear after the first day. It is a serious question why they do that?? we are aware that some of them are smash and grabs delinquents and not always that easy to trace as they move around the city.

  8. Hi Peace, thesmash and grab delinquents are dealt with in a special way in Julius Nyerere Avenue (formerly Warwick Avenue) the largest Taxi hub in Durban. Not so long ago I was stopped in traffic in Warwick Avenue and a young hooligan swung a string with a spark plug on the end into my passenger side window, the window was smashed and the young hooligan leant in unlocked the door dragged it open and grabbed my brief case which was on the floor. He then ran between two Taxis and was immediately grabbed by two taxi drivers who gratefully returned my briefcase. I asked them what were they were going to do with the young lout. They told me they would sort him out and asked me to move on. Why do people have to resort to Kangaroo justice because our youth misbehave and the cops do nothing.

  9. The reason most if not all our politicians even listen to Fatboy is that they are chicken shit. No-one will tackle the ANCYL because they may be trashed out of any leading position in the ANC. Instead our leaders cower like rabid dogs before the evil onslaught of misbegotten policy that will bring our country to ruin. Until such time as the ANC leadership takes a stand against these foolish goblins, things will get worse and our youth will not stand a chance. Mss Obama and Oprah are right but they will never see their dreams of a better South Africa unless the fools in the ANC get some backbone.

  10. Hi

    I think she is right at some point but truth is we have those statements before but south africa is still the same .

  11. Let us hear another statement. No country can achieve any positivity, growth, potential without an educated population.. Our education system is in disarray the OBE was a failure and what we have now is almost as bad. No amount of manipulation of results can alter this. Why do we not hear any speeches or see any action from Fatboy and his YL tackling this most fundamental and important issue. He is the ANCYL leader is he not?

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