So here we are in 2014, and what a year it 2013 was, with the passing of the world’s greatest leader, Nelson Mandela, as the most prominent event of last year. We were all occupied with reflection and introspection during the official mourning period. In fact, it almost overshadowed the rest of years’ events. Rightly so, I think! Especially with all the controversy and worldwide fuss it caused.

I would officially like to commend the deaf, for alerting the rest of the nation of the fraudulent misinterpretation Thamsanqa Jantjie offered us during Nelson Mandela’s State funeral. His presence at the esteemed and extremely sentimental event, despite his inability to interpret sign language, shocked the world. We would never have known if disgruntled deaf viewers did not speak up and report it. As much of an insult it was, I have to commend how promptly it was picked up and discussed over modern technology, making use of social networks and online media as an assistive way of communication!

It got me thinking: how does one translate or show the sign of the roar of a cheering crowd or the disagreement of the crowd? Even if there is one, I think my friends that are hearing impaired missed out on something that can only be communicated by a discontented crowd, when they booed the president, Jacob Zuma. These prominent background noises were a clear indication of things to come this year and in the words commonly used to defend this behaviour, “the people have spoken”!

It is clear how we, the people of South Africa, are side lined and disregarded when decisions pertaining to us are made. As disabled people of South Africa, we have to ask ourselves more than ever: what we are going to do about this? Where are the houses, security, comfort and facilities that were promised in the Charter of Freedom by the people long ago? People in disadvantaged positions in society still struggle to access services from our government.  As we prepare ourselves for this year and plan ahead, our political representatives are still not playing the game fairly and we cannot rely on them. We are faced with legislation that is passed and implemented, like the e-tolls, while our input and needs are not taken into consideration. The struggles and victories of the past are ignored, yet we will be canvassed for our votes later this year.  Even our very own “comrades with disabilities” question and disagree with our actions when we protest against the unjust systems and laws our government decide on.

We have the freedom to express our dissatisfaction with the government. This is a luxury that we did not have twenty years ago! We also have the freedom to associate with whomever we choose. In fact, we have a mature democratic system in place with a sound constitution to guide us. The only thing lacking is the moral conscience, integrity and trust for our elected officials. We have had all this time to prove to ourselves and the world that we can handle the responsibility of our freedom. Guiding figures like Madiba and his peers are fading fast and it is time for us to come to the fore and continue on the path towards a bright South African future.

Let us show the world that we share in the successes of the leaders of the past and have learnt from the mistakes of the leaders of the recent past.