There will be bumps and unexpected falls, but it’s going to be a hell of a ride

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By Howard Feldman, Synthesis

Between horror movies and my late mother, I have always been nervous of funfairs. As a child, the repeated and unspecified warnings of “what goes on there”, was a constant refrain:  so much so that if I were to picture a carnival, the image would be of a drug cash- and-carry supermarket on the one side, and a child trafficking outlet on the other.

Horror films reinforced the notion and succeeded to turning what should be a vibrant sound of children at play, or on a merry-go-round into something sinister, dark and foreboding.

Which is why when we say that living life in South Africa is like spending a day on a roller coaster, the meanings are multiple.

The lead up to the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) has been anything but smooth. And whereas it might not always have been stomach-dropping lurches, it certainly had moments that belong best in the Haunted House: not only because of the skeletons that leap out when we are least expecting them (just ask Renaldo Gouws), but also because of the unknown demons that might well be lurking around the next corner. Fear of what could be, along with the descriptions of “Doomsday” coalitions, did little to settle our nerves.

Maybe the drug dealers on the other side of the amusement park should consider offering mass discounts for a nationwide supply of Xanor. They would make a killing.

Threats of violence, political killings in KZN and memories of the July riots a few short years ago, all added to the anxiety, along with a currency that seems to be seated in the same roller-coaster car as we are, rising and falling with our emotions, sometimes with a stomach that is more sensitive than ours and anticipating that we might not have considered. This time, inviting the Johannesburg Stock Exchange along for the ride so that more fun could be had by all.

Through it all there was the steady gaze of responsible players who have been consistently guided by the light of the constitution, so that when the funfair seemed to lose the glimmer and when it started to darken, it was that very constitution that lead the way.

Led the way to Pretoria where President Ramaphosa was inaugurated. The midweek event was a much-needed break from chaos and screams of the funfair and allowed the adults a moment to themselves. It was sober, honest, inspiring and once again inclusive. The President himself echoing the words we needed to hear that he will be a President for all South Africans and not for some and reflecting an understanding that the people of the country had spoken and that they had been heard.

As the many religious leaders gave their blessings and said their prayers, we were reminded of our diversity, of our faith and of our belief that South Africa really is a country of miracles.

The GNU ride is a fairly new one for South Africa. Although we might have ridden its predecessor in 1994, the situation was far from the same. That was a time before social media, it was a time of rainbows and of Mandela and it was a time when the ANC not only was populated by those who lived the values of the Freedom Charter, but also the party with a significant amount of support.

The New GNU is new to this park. We have not ridden it before and we have no idea what it entails. We know there will be bumps and unexpected falls. We know we will be blindsided and horrified. But we also know that the drivers have every intention of getting us safely to the other side.

All we need to do so, is fasten our seatbelts and hold tight because it’s going to be a hell of a ride.