It is time to take responsibility


Originally published in The Herald

I visited Ethiopia a few weeks ago and I was impressed by how well the country is running. Amidst many challenges the country is experiencing a building boom with many high rise buildings going up throughout its capital city, Addis Ababa. The country’s national carrier, Ethiopian airlines, has been in existence for over 60 years and has garnered awards such as ‘African Cargo Airline of the Year (2011) and Africa’s Most Profitable Airline (2009, 2010 and 2011).’

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Ethiopia is one of only two countries in Africa that were never colonised and I believe this factor contributes to the mindset of its citizens. The people do not have much of a social safety net to rely on but are industrious and hardworking. South Africans on the other hand are too dependent on political masters who are seen to have the key to all the country’s problems. We have simply put too much weight on the shoulders of very few people.  

In the book ‘Critical Choices for South Africa,’ Michael D. McGrath, when accounting for economic inequality between whites and blacks, acknowledges the historical factors responsible for this inequality but he also mentions what he terms the ‘higher dependency ratio among Africans.’ I do not know what is responsible for this ratio but we have to deal with it in order for the country to move forward.

I believe this dependency ratio is partly responsible for the chaos we saw in parliament during the State of the Nation address. The truth is that if we held our politicians to higher levels of accountability they wouldn’t act with such impunity. The Bible teaches that a person reaps what he sows and I believe this is also true of a country. We are responsible for the behaviour of our country’s leaders. 

I close with this anonymous quote. It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.    


  1. Hello Africa, I want you to know that I always enjoy your column; however, in this case may I add that whilst we may not be responsible for the behaviour of our country’s leaders (they are); we may however be responsible for who are/or who become, our country’s leaders. May the lord bless you and strengthen you in the work of the vineyard. Peter.

  2. Margaret Ferguson

    Hi Afrika – I refer to what you are saying as the
    ‘entitlement mentality’ and a follow on of that is poor work ethic. An amusing book of years ago by Clem Sunter in the same vein was ‘Pretoria will provide and other myths, but the basis of it was OK – published in 1993. Unfortunately this sickness has been creeping up on the country in an insidious way for a long time; history of course has something to answer for.

  3. Interesting and challenging. Thanks.

  4. Thank you for your thoughts Afrika. I am afraid the entitlement issue and communal land ownership are our two biggest bugbears,apart from ancestral worship. Quality education, and a turning to God are the ultimate answers.We do not have much time on our hands to rectify these without God’s help.

  5. I enjoy your column. Always thought provoking and apt. Thank you