create economic equality now or invite calamity

JUST when it was time for the nation to take stock of the wave after wave of good wishes that come with the new year, the matric results were disappointingly no bolt out of the blue in a country where one part of its people's fortunes seems forever dogged by the misfortunes of the other that hails from black townships.

JUST when it was time for the nation to take stock of the wave after wave of good wishes that come with the new year, the matric results were disappointingly no bolt out of the blue in a country where one part of its people's fortunes seems forever dogged by the misfortunes of the other that hails from black townships.

For the continent, the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, staged to show the best of the continent's football, did not begin without a tear.

Instead of marking more than 200 years of independence, Haiti was struck by an earthquake that has seen celebrations give way to burials.

The picture of a man removing the body of an earthquake victim at a cemetery in Port-au-Prince to steal a coffin was the ghastliest of scenes.

In South Africa, where money now defines quality, it seems to follow that those who have it have greater choice in determining what is best for their children.

Those without money are left without the voice or the means to remove their children from conditions that cement the propensity for failure.

In this dichotomy of failure and success lies the unsaid meaning of power and democracy of post-1994 South Africa.

Left unchallenged the realitymeans that money equals success and that to be poor is synonymous with failure.

Overwhelmed by problems not of their making, the poor majority tend to accept failure as a given condition of their existence while the rich make money the natural measure of universal success.

In the logic of this distorted reality, one is assumed to be as wise or unwise as the zeroes in one's bank account. Out of that distortion springs the misguided notion that one's bank balance is related to one's intelligence.

The warning to bear in mind is that any society whose continued success hinges on the few - to the total neglect of the majority - is a ticking time bomb that will explode to claim both the rich and the poor as victims.

The poor matric results that the country posts year after year are a flashing danger signal of a doomed future that we should prevent rather than attempt to cure after the fact of doom.

By understanding that the future of the poor is intertwined with that of the rich, is the beginning of knowledge for both to build a common, stable, liberating and growing future, whose defining feature must be built on equality.

That future begins with children. And the matric pass rate that the country registers each year will be an indicator of the government's grasp of the wrongs that need to be righted in our education system.

Failure by the government to right these wrongs makes it culpable, a significant factor in the students' poor performance.By taking education seriously, African governments would be putting their best foot forward in nurturing children who will become responsible citizens in a stable, peaceful and a prosperous continent.

With life-changing opportunities, children would be deterred from losing their way and ending up ambushing unarmed sportsmen going to a soccer tournament with assault rifles, as was the case with the attack on the Togo national soccer team in Angola.

If the collapse of colonial rule is the ultimate defence of one's dignity, the picture of a man removing a corpse from a coffin in the aftermath of the Haiti quake is a grim comment on the state of 200 years of independence.

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