Go to the ant young and old sluggards and be wise

"United we stand, divided we fall" is a phrase that has been used in mottos, from nations and states to songs.

"United we stand, divided we fall" is a phrase that has been used in mottos, from nations and states to songs.

The basic concept is that unless the people are united it is easy to destroy them. This is a counter to the maxim divide and rule.

The phrase has been attributed to Aesop, both directly in his fable The Four Oxen and the Lion, and indirectly in The Bundle of Sticks.

The first attributed use in modern times is to John Dickinson in his revolutionary war song The Liberty Song. In the song, first published in the Boston Gazette in July 1768, he wrote: "Then join hand in hand, brave Americans all! By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall!"

I think this motto does not exist in South Africa, especially in the light of developments on the political scene.

In fact, I think it should change to "United we fall, divided we stand".

The mother of all schisms, the implosion that was never meant to be in the ANC, gives credence to this feeling of dread. The more we try, it seems, the deeper we push our foot in the mouth.

And no sooner had we thought that the birth of the Congress of the People (Cope) brought with it a fresh breeze than we were bombarded with more vitriol, this time from the new kid on the block, Anele Mda.

It is said that one should never shoot a man when he is down.

Granted, Cope has apologised for Mda's rapist remarks as well as for those of one of the new party's leaders, Willie Madisha.

Question is: Did Mda, who is Julius Malema's opposite number in her party's youth wing, really have to stoop to his level with her "we are going to have a government that is going to make raping official" remark?

Earlier, Mda received accolades when she boldly asserted herself, saying she was "the opposite of the ANC Youth League firebrand president, as I was brought up by a grandfather who taught me humility and respect".

This was when she was introduced as Cope's youth convener, but only to drop her bombshell two weeks later.

Surely many disaffected youths saw in her an alternative to brimstone and fire-spitting "we will kill" militants.

Now I'm not so sure and hope it was just youthful exuberance behind the young woman's words.

Back to my unity theme.

It is known that children learn from their parents and that charity begins at home.

However, as we blindly forge ahead as disunited as ever while throwing choice insults at each other, someone is watching and laughing all the way home.

The struggle for liberation led by morally upright black leaders was against white domination.

Today the erstwhile oppressor is indeed saying "look at them now, even their children are hurling insults at each other just like their fathers are doing now".

Granted, Malema and Mda may be former comrades, but I have some sound advice for them and their ilk.

I may not remember from which chapter of the Scripture it is, but my high school principal, the late JA Nakedi, drilled it into Charles Mogale's and my juvenile skulls years ago.

My colleague Sibongile Mashaba tells me the verse is from the book of Proverbs.

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise."

lNotes on "United we stand, divided we fall" sourced from Wikipedia free online encyclopaedia.