You know. We’re talking a lot about jobs at the moment. Anyone who has picked up a newspaper in the last 5 years can recite South Africa’s unemployment statistics on request. Everyone can sing about the “job” crisis in all kinds of a capella. You hear the hymns inscribed into trendy start up pitches. It’s a tasty piece of pie that glistens quite brightly in many a young Entrepreneur’s eye – My mistake I think now we call them social Entrepreneurs? Lest I forget to include in their title. Their social presuppositions. Of the seemingly positive entrepreneurial movement and it’s shiny new disposition – But, my friend I digress. The point I want to stress. Is about these “jobs” that we speak so vehemently about. That we must protect. Create. Manufacture. Before our society continues to slowly fracture. But what exactly are they? These jobs of which we speak. What is the nature of these jobs that we require?
Well, I have a proposition for you. And sorry, my friend. But it’s honestly nothing new.
What we require, in my opinion, without question is meaningful work. Of course tied together closely to Equal Access and Equal Opportunity.
Considering the dramatic position of our inequality. With the massive levels of unemployment. Among the Youth. And it’s sheer quantity. We have upon us a responsibility. To engage in a conversation that is many decades old. We have an opportunity to bring to life, meaningful work opportunities as we task ourselves to address unemployment. The alienation of our labour force, is not a new concept. But we must task ourselves to interrogate the literature and excite a new thinking that will bring meaning to the texts that sought to address it’s very absence.
We are steadily approaching a cliff. We are clearly, as far as I can see, at the precipice. So called unskilled labour jobs are tangibly under threat by foreign competition and rapid mechanisation. We have to contend with. Flailing Union forces. Struggling to fight for workers rights. To provide meaningful compensation.
But if we frame this in a different light. This can turn to be a great opportunity for this country going forward. If we choose wisely. Which fights to fight.
Let me suggest to you, looking at the future of this continent. That one of the pillars of our continued struggle for liberation. Will be our ability to encourage and to facilitate a transition.. From the present position of the majority of our labour force. To a position that provides for all – without exception.. Tangibly meaningful work.
In our present society, without question. There is plenty left to do. We have uncountable social ills affecting our collective. It will require collective effort. Effective power. To resolve what we must simply just do.
I can’t labour on this point enough. We need to stretch our imaginations. And invest in some reflection. Collectively we must address the needs of communities. In ways that gives them space and provides support so that they can resolve the conditions in which they inhabit. We must allow ourselves to take time to get our hands dirty. Take ownership and responsibility for the conditions of our local schools. Rethink community safety in ways that go beyond the Police Forces.
I’m not making a convoluted call for Active Citizenship per se. It’s simply a call to action. A plea to galvanize ourselves and our communities to break down the walls of apathy that are going to remain propped up if we continue placing Government organisations at the center of our liberation. We need to take responsibility and rebuild the concept of the community. We have nothing to lose. These problems cannot be resolved by Government who are acting under our authority, I am sure of this. No matter what candidate you choose.
Our actions must be Affirmative. If we are to develop and mature meaningful alternatives.
Encouragement, Gratitude and Collective Love exercised through participation. Can lead us on a path towards our future. And our liberation.
Let’s not get ourselves trapped in historical loops here.
I take the case of mine workers. I can’t see why over the long term that we must protect the position of the “job” of the mine worker. In the context of this continent, if not many others, I cannot see how the position of the mine worker will be dispelled of significant health, safety and dignity concerns. Let us not even forget to mention the ills that the migrant labour system has committed. Is committing. Don’t take this to mean I don’t support the present plight of the miners. And the struggles for their rights. My point is that over time we must create meaning work opportunities that intersect with equitable life opportunities so that no man, woman or child will ever have to go through such deathly depths. To provide food for their families.
Of course in this pursuit. It is essential to be cognisant of our history. And of our Geography. Paying close attention to the intentions and consequences of the planned structures of our major cities. We must protect against monopolies. And conscientize one another appropriately.
No doubt. A great deal of creativity will be needed to encourage a serious shift in our workforce. To develop a space that we can match to. Where each of us can flourish. Each and every one of us deserves this opportunity.
Meaningful work. Unfortunately. Is not something I’m going to bother describing. Or even attempt at prescribing. By definition. But take note that the language of it’s phrasing is intentional. Deliberate. It’s up for us to collectively debate, challenge, develop and adopt. That is if ever this ambition is ever to come to fruition.
We need to breed a culture of honesty.
Why do we work?
For who do we work?
Are we happy?
What is our contribution?
What is needed?
To seriously address these questions. Political consciousness is something we are going to need to have encouraged. We need to stop from marginalising and dismissing young voices who dedicate time and energy to burning issues. We need to stop admonishing. And promoting a myth of the non-partisan citizen.
At junctures like these in our collective history. We need to decide. What is important?
When resources are thin. As they are. We need to be prepared to decide what is important. So that we can act with the authority of thoughtfulness. In order to channel our energies and put forward tasks that require immediate priority.
Now, I know here in Africa. The word “slave” carriers a certain kind of sting. But not only must we remember the past. Let’s not condemn ourselves and our children into modern incarnations of the very same abominations.
Meaningful work for all.
By any means necessary.
Meaningful work. From bottom to top.
The alienation of our labour is somehow a crime against our humanity.
And it must be brought – immediately to a stop.
Innovation and Imagination.
Brought outside of city coffee shops. And artistic spaces. And designer havens.
Must now manifest in tangible alternatives for how we organize.
And shed let on how we are to further prioritize.
If we have any hope of building a society that truly will thrive.
A society. Where every member can truly feel. Alive.
Brought not only from sharp savvy entrepreneurs.
Developed through the minds, hands and hearts.
Of those who are to live the consequences of this path.
And now – And here. I think. Is the best time and place to start.