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Fri Sep 30 10:20:02 CAT 2016

‘I am passionately pro South Africa’ – Capetonian’s ‘Run Zuma’ letter goes viral

TMG Digital | 21 January, 2016 12:53
“The messages I've received from around SA have blown me away. We're beautiful... the citizens of this crazy land. We are beautiful‚ and hopeful‚ and strong. So strong‚” she says. File photo
Image by: DADO RUVIC / REUTERS

A Capetonian who posted an open letter to President Jacob Zuma highlighting South Africa’s social ills – poor education‚ poverty‚ drug use – has gone viral with over 17‚400 shares of her Facebook post.

Kim Stephens says she is overwhelmed by the response since her post on Monday‚ which contrasts the problems with individuals’ willingness to help others.

“The messages I've received from around SA have blown me away. We're beautiful... the citizens of this crazy land. We are beautiful‚ and hopeful‚ and strong. So strong‚” she says.

“I am expecting it all to simmer down soon. But that doesn't mean we must stop talking and listening. Hear each other‚ help each other. Learn more about the communities around you‚ and let go of the prejudices that hold you back; that hold us back.”

Stephens says most of the comments she has received have been encouraging: “99% positive sentiment. I'm getting about 1 friend request every 2 minutes from complete strangers. Some people sharing my post have absorbed my intention‚ others have turned it in to something else and sprinkled it with their own agendas. That's just the way it goes”.

“I didn't think that post would gain such momentum…I am passionately pro SA and all its beauty‚ diversity‚ and complexities. To the few that have messaged me to say that I am posting from a privileged perspective - I am‚ you're right. I am very privileged compared to the vast majority of South Africans. That is what moves me to want to see change. I am also passionate about understanding our divides‚ and finding ways to bring us all closer together. United we thrive. Be cognicent of your past‚ and positive about your future. Give back‚ uplift and listen. Mostly‚ listen‚” Stephens says.

Here is the text of her original post‚ published to Facebook on January 18 at 10:32am:

I feel like Zuma needs to go for a run. Takkies on‚ lube up‚ head out for a trot‚ sir. One foot in front of the other‚ on the pavements of your country. Pass your voters‚ and non voters. You can't tell them apart via race‚ sir.

Foot in an uncovered manhole? Sorry about that. Dodge the human waste of the homeless. Run on. Wide berth around the tik head that might take your emergency R20 Coca-Cola cash. Run. Run some more. Pass the businesses advertising closing down sales‚ the derelict office blocks. Pass the homes with laundry hanging on communal fences. High five the babies playing in dirt. Steer clear of the children that should be in school. The school with the long drop‚ no text books‚ and an under-paid teacher.

Run‚ Zuma.

Greet the doctors and nurses stumbling bleary-eyed on to public transport to return home after a 48-hour shift for pittance. Breathe deeply as you pass the sewerage pumping in to the sea. Smell that?

Nearly half way now‚ Zuma. Sweating? Run some more.

The committed flower seller‚ the Big Issue peddler‚ the beggar. Another beggar. Oh‚ look sharp Zuma! Stay right! Blue light brigade coming through. Big cars‚ flashing lights. Someone more important than the man voluntarily patrolling his neighbourhood to protect his children and neighbours. More important than the Big Issue salesman‚ the beggar. VIP in a big ass car. Run on. Pass the men sitting on upturned boxes waiting for manual work. Any work. Around the pothole.

Climb higher. Run that hill‚ now.

Report the water gushing out of an unkempt pipe‚ as you run by. Spare a thought for the farmers suffering through the drought‚ while you do so. Climb. Push up‚ past the sprawling informal settlement awaiting housing. You might want to keep your head down here‚ sir‚ as you promised them service delivery in return for their votes... Years ago.

Keep going.

Now from that summit‚ as you sweat‚ look down.

Look at your people‚ voters and non. See the big shot businessman quietly funding a school project. See the housewife paying school fees for another woman's children. Look at that beach clean-up team‚ the students volunteering in an orphanage and the food parcels arriving from a leading grocery chain.

You didn't‚ so they did.

Observe the community spirit when a fire breaks out and ravages the shacks of an under-resourced community. Or when a fire ravages part of our precious natural heritage.

Look far from your vantage point and note the unity‚ mixed marriages‚ mixed families‚ students of all races standing together for a common cause. See the colour blind children of South Africa.

Observe keenly the pain and suffering of the poor‚ with their lack of role models and inefficient education.

Take note of the growing force that is standing up against you‚ to uplift the poor and bring about true equality. See the privileged communities becoming aware of their position‚ and using it to improve the lives of others. You didn't‚ so they did.

Now run home‚ Zuma. Back to your 20th child. Back to a life of luxury and total lack of empathy. Mind you don't trip on your shoelace as you go.

- Her Facebook page can be found here

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