One of our lead stories this week was the opening of the One Day at a Time (ODAAT) Alcohol and Drug Recovery Centre in Buffalo Flats.
During the opening ceremony, ODAAT chairperson Suraya Leeuw said something that really stuck with me. She was talking about the recent waves of protests that erupted around the country in response to gender-based violence (GBV).
“People before this week have died and our voices were silent. We were reactive.
“You know what happens when we just react? Tomorrow, two days after and in the weeks to come, we go silent. The protests happen and we think we’ve done enough.”
The next day at the SPAR Daily Dispatch Fun Run, Leeuw’s words came back to me when I saw a walker carrying a protest sign bearing the pictures of Uyinene Mrwetyana, Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels and Angelique Clark-Abrahams, locals who had recently lost their lives to brutal acts of GBV.
We live in an age of 24/7 news, where stories bombard us before we have a chance to properly digest the last batch we got hit with five minutes ago.
In such an environment, click-bait and breaking news become necessities since they are what result in those precious clicks needed to pay the bills. As a result, stories that were huge deals when they broke are pushed to the wayside within a week, sometimes even sooner, to make way for the Next Big Scoop.
Bringing it back to the GBV protests, it’s like Leeuw said: it was headline news across the country, there were massive protests in major cities and, Leeuw’s words, “we think we’ve done enough”.
Even now, the conversation is starting to drift away from the “outbreak” of GBV last week in favour of more current news and by the end of the month, chances are you won’t see it in your newspapers or on television/radio save for the odd mention here or there.
One of the biggest obstacles activists must overcome is that of public apathy but at the same time, the onus can’t be solely on them to educate us about what’s going on in the world. As citizens, it is our duty to not only stay informed but stay active.
As I’ve written previously, singular acts performed now and then won’t bring about the change we so desperately need.
Combating GBV, or climate change, or economic inequality or any of the other big problems that affect our society demand a continuous effort from all of us. Only then can we hope to change our world for the better.