Dear South Africa

Like many of you, I love this country. For those of you who think you don’t, or don’t know if you do, when you get to that really honest place inside, you realize you too love this place, or at worst, you want to love it, be loyal to it, experience that special feeling of patriotism. However, you may believe that there are certain real or perceived obstacles that make it difficult for you to truly love SA and be patriotic.

I personally am gravely concerned about the lack of trust that permeates our society, due to several contributing factors. Most concerning is the disproportionate contribution of race relations to this trust deficit, which then renders us incapable of looking at situations and each other, our views and comments objectively. This worries me tremendously!

And because of this there is real danger that developments like #ZumaMustFall

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Image courtesy of:

can somehow be manipulated away from becoming a watershed moment for positive change, to becoming a catalyst for creating an irreparable chasm between black and white in SA; therefore moving us further apart instead. We simply cannot allow this to happen!

But, in South Africa, when all else fails, throw out the race card to divide black and white; to bring emotionality not rationality; subjectivity not objectivity into the fray. It is a distraction strategy that is so often used – be it instinctively or consciously. More often than not it works because this is South Africa after all, and such accusations mostly contain some truth!

South Africans, both black and white, let us rise above this, as we did in the Mandela era. Let us remain objective and honest in a mutual cause of demanding good leadership at the top! This beautiful country deserves it. As I wrote in a previous article: “As a South African I don’t really care which political party leads this nation. I care about whether the person at the top is a great leader or not and whether he/she is surrounded by more great leaders – all of whom put South Africa first; leading boldly, fairly and honourably”.

Here is a leadership principle: An authentic, big picture cause seems to unite black and white, rich and poor to stand side by side. We saw this when Mandela led us. We saw this with #FeesMustFall and now #ZumaMustFall.

The next leadership principle: In the absence of great leadership to galvanise people around such causes, other contentious, divisive issues easily hog our attention and negative energy. In this instance it is racism. And this is exactly how 2016 starts – individuals (some of them unimportant) uttering racial statements back and forth, with many giving and taking offense. Make no mistake #RacismMustFall, but we have more than enough challenges to unite around – racism being one of these – rather than fight each other, simply because it benefits the politicians and those with tunnel vision. Let’s face it, this certainly does not benefit us ordinary South Africans!

Next leadership principle: What do we really miss here? Not a cause or causes (there are plenty of these) but a leader/s who will unite us rather than divide us around a mutual and passionate vision. Because we don’t have this there is little or no momentum towards success, we lose our collective confidence, become frustrated, then tensions build and suddenly blame sets in – a perfect environment for emphasis on divisive issues!

Let us not be blind sheep that follow shepherds with immature, short-sighted, destructive and selfish strategies! For the sake of South Africa, our future generations and great, authentic leadership everywhere let us insist on leaders that consistently speak truth to power; who fearlessly respects and honours their mantle to defend the interests of their followers; who have sound value systems and are principle centred; who does not see black or white but sees right and wrong and will therefore be supported by both black and white as a result. I again state, South Africans don’t crave political parties, they crave great leadership and important causes, a vision to unite around!

This article appeared in

Business Report

 On 14 January 2016

Adriaan Groenewald is a leadership expert and commentator. Follow him on Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP or @LeadershipPform.  Furthermore you can contact him on email:




Adriaan, as an accomplished author and leadership advisor, has been interviewing and working with top leaders for more than 15 years. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Leadership Platform. (Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP)

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