Friday, March 11, 2011


How do you make people interested in politics?
And how do you then make them interested enough to get involved in politics?
How does a disinterested person become an activist?
Is it even worth attempting?

South Africa is/was a highly politicized country. Apartheid gave us all something to have an opinion about, a side to join, a cause to believe in, a future to fight for. Good or bad. We all cared, because the stakes were so high.

Yesterday, the students in both my Communication classes and Human Development classes gave a resounding thumbs-down to any kind of political interest.

“Do you watch the news on TV?”    NO!
“Do you read newspapers?”    NEVER!
“Do you go to political party rallies?”     WE JUST WANNA PARTY!

Last week at an otherwise great gig in Durban, the crowd just stared blankly during my songs that had political content (“Rant”, “A Luta Continua”, “Government Song” etc).

White, black, Indian or other, younger South Africans have not inherited the previous generation’s passion for political engagement. Most black kids I know love the ANC Youth League president Julius Malema because he’s a large personality, not because of anything inherently political he has to say. That’s normal: kids just want to be kids. We want to move on, not live in the past. That’s why Winston Churchill was voted out of office just after WW2.

So how do you politicize people?
How do you turn them on to their own political power?
How do you show kids that politics isn’t just boring old men in three-piece suits, but everything to do with their own future?
Above all, how do you encourage democratic people to act democratically, hold their own government accountable and actively oppose bad governance?

Your suggestions, please.