Life is not a game of Wordle, but a Mkize victory might just be the answer

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By: Howard Feldman

We are all just trying to figure it out. Not just South Africans, but around the world people are puzzling, searching, trying, making mistakes, and doing their darndest to find the answer before we run out of chances.

Each year around this time, Google gifts us with the most searched words of the last 12 months. Whereas each country might have its own focus and nuance, it is always interesting to see what remains common around the planet. This year “Wordle” made it into the top ten in more countries than almost any other search.

Which should be no surprise at all.

For those who are just visiting earth, Wordle is a simple online puzzle where each day a new five letter word is released. Users have six attempts to reach the answer before losing to the game.  The game was created and developed by Welsh software engineer Josh Wardle and owned and published by The New York Times Company since 2022.

There are numerous articles written as to why Wordle is so popular. Some believe that it’s an “easy win” which means it gives us a lift and boost by illustrating that we “can” solve something.

In my view, it goes deeper.

South Africans, almost without fail, are trying to figure out the conundrum. We believe that there is an answer and that we have a limited amount of time to get it right. The five letters might differ slightly from day to day but in essence we are aware that that they include:

  • The power crises
  • Corruption
  • Employment
  • Economic growth
  • Government accountability

We have already used up several attempts to get these right and are aware that the chances available to us, are not limitless. We have overcome apartheid, we have survived Jacob Zuma and state capture, we have lived through Covid and emerged from the July 2021 riots bruised, but stronger for the resilience of a country that would not allow itself to be led into an orchestrated chaos.  Time after time we have been saved by the judiciary, by a free press and by a people who refuse to give up hope.

More than that, we are confident that much like each new Wordle puzzle, there is a solution with the pieces that we have at our disposal. All we must do, is slot them in correctly.

Ahead of the 55th African National Congress leadership congress, set to take place between 16 and 20 December, there is significant anxiety. The recent attempt to remove president Cyril Ramaphosa, the clear battle within the ruling party and Eskom being used as a political pawn whilst decent South Africans sit in the dark waiting for illumination, have increased anxiety. The options of Ramaphosa, bogged down by Phala Phala versus an alleged corruption-linked Mkize on the surface, does not leave much room for optimism.

But as any Wordle player will tell you, just when there seems to be no hope of finding the solution, it arrives.

Consider the following. A Ramaphosa victory would mean a strengthening of his position. Should he be asked at a later stage to step aside, there will be a reasonable alternative in the offing. A Mkize victory means the end of the ANC in a government. With a short 18 months to elections, there will be little hope that the ANC will retain the power to lead.

Add further that meetings between Herman Mashaba of Action SA and John Steenhuizen of the DA  have indicated a willingness to lead a coalition, and a Mkize victory might just be the answer. Even if we think it isn’t.

Life is not a game of Wordle. It is infinitely more complicated and more challenging. We are also gifted with more attempts than just six as we struggle to find the answers.

Where they are similar, is that each day is a new challenge. And each day and each year gives us the opportunity to do our best to get it right.