By Mbali Khumalo
Mbali is one of V-Girls South Africa founder members. She has been instrumental in growing V-girls and is currently a first year law student at University of Cape Town.
My appreciation of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa runs deep. In fact, as a first year law student I find myself developing a rather passionate, love-hate relationship with it. There’s something undeniably wonderful about the fact that a pocket-sized book that I carry around with me has the power to protect me from all kinds of discrimination. The Constitution respects me and embraces my diversity. It loves the fact that I’m black and female, and would love me just the same if I weren’t. It listens to my issues and is open to changing with the times. I love our Constitution but I find myself unsatisfied. With all that power and supremacy, you’d think there would be no space for discrimination, abject poverty, rape and violence. The pocket-sized book does not serve as an invisibility cloak that will protect me when I walk to the bus stop after a long night in the library, or when I’m told that the colour of my skin makes me unworthy. When faced with these harsh realities of an unjust world, the pocket-sized super hero just becomes a book with a plethora of great words in it. In these moments I close my eyes and allow authenticity and raw emotion to show me what lies beneath the surface of the law, the politics, the speeches and promises. I see Justice standing alone in a dim space, weeping. Justice’s screams of negligence are directed to an audience that receives the sounds as muffled tones whose vibrational frequencies have been weakened by the walls of distraction. She cannot speak to the oppressor, she needs you to do it for her, but you have to allow yourself to feel her presence, or rather, acknowledge her absence, and then do something about it. In those moments of vulnerability, moments we’ve all faced and witnessed, the responsibility of protection lies on us. JUST US. You see, our Constitution is a magnificent foundation, but in order to build the sky scraper of a country we have the potential to build we need human power. So, here’s looking at you, kid.
When was the last time you turned on your television, watched the news, rolled your eyes, shook your head and made a comment about how depressing it all is? Two minutes ago? Every day? You’re not alone. When was the last time you did something about it? Whatever the answer is, you could probably do more. You see, there’s only one way to go about this: when anyone, and I mean ANYONE does something to undermine YOUR constitution, hold him or her accountable. When you are sitting on the train and you witness an infringement on someone’s right to dignity, INTERVINE. It matters not who the wrong-doer is, the pocket-sized book wins. Whether it’s an elected official, the priest, your second cousin, the dog-walker, the police officer or the receptionist, you have the Constitution on your side, render it legitimate by using it to make your country a better place. To assume that social activism is someone else’s responsibility is to make a dangerous mistake. When anybody’s constitutional rights are messed with, it is YOUR job to use the power of the pocket-sized book to right the wrong because the law of the land is your baby, and NOBODY PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER! It must be fully understood that Justice is about US. Just Us, not some weird political game, not some sneaky economic strategy, not some concept that we can’t understand because it’s packaged in an intentionally intimidating way. Justice is about US. We, the people. Breathe it, love it, live it, and protect it with everything you have.