Is it further to Limpopo than Mars?
A while back Neil de Grasse Tyson spoke about how space opens up the ability to dream.
The first manmade satellite was launched by Russia in 1957 - just think of how much has changed because of that one event – such that we can find our way anywhere, and our voices boom across continents.
Right now India is planning on sending its own probe to Mars, China is gearing up its scientific researchers and scientists, and we in South Africa yearn to do the same as we work on our portion of the Square Kilometre Array.
That is the tragedy of our education system, the betrayal of that South African dream of equality, in which we are lifted on the shoulders of our countrymen’s success. We have a will to be a nation of engineers and scientists, we look upon the stars and know they could be, no, should be ours.
Some dream of having a farm, many dream of farming the stars.
And yet, where are the textbooks? Three months until the matric exams, and where are the textbooks?
It takes a year for our species to send something to Mars, and 17 minutes to know if whatever we have put there has landed, or blown up. Yet human beings pulled it off.
In 1964 a particle was theorised called the Higgs Boson, and we had no idea of how to find it. This year, it could very well have been found, and if not that is an even more exciting result.
We always say we are “only human” – humans did this.
These are the achievements not of individual nations, but of human beings, and we are human beings too. Surely we can deliver some textbooks?
If human beings can send a robot to Mars, then we can send textbooks to Limpopo. If human beings can overcome the massive obstacles in the way of finding the Higgs Boson, we can overcome barriers before our education system.
Or do we hold the barriers of politics to be so much harder to overcome than the laws of the very universe itself? Is cash colder than the vacuum of space, and a solution more elusive than the Higgs Boson?
The tragedy of our history is its wasted potential, the students who through deliberately inferior education were kept from greatness, the geniuses who through a culture of separation never got to show their genius.
Racism harms all of us, because it divides us, it keeps us from seeing what we can do as we are governed by our preconceptions. The same is true of sexism, where those who could move us forwards as a species are precluded from doing so by preconceptions of their abilities.
When you put limits on one person, you limit every person.
And the same is true of the way we are perpetuating poverty now, through inept administration. Sure, it isn’t done with malice, but is it any better to fail through incompetence and negligence?
We need to set aside these preconceptions of what is possible, not simply when it comes to others but when it comes to ourselves, we need to know we can do it and then do it.
Let there be no more excuses about budgets, who sets the budget? Whose mayors and MECs are corrupt? Who collapsed that province? If our leaders refuse to lead, it is time for us to find new ones.
We as South Africans demand better, because we know we can have better. We are, after all, first and foremost human beings.