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South Africa – On the brink of…Cyril’s new dawn?

The lessons from load shedding

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By Justin Foxton

The Power of the metaphor

Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space” – Orson Scott Card

In spirituality as in all of life, metaphors hold enormous capacity for teaching and guiding. Great thinkers, writers, theologians, poets and gurus of all descriptions and disciplines, turn to metaphors – or rather seek the metaphors – in all of life’s circumstances.

Teasing the metaphor

My friend and colleague Dr Rama Naidu – founder and CEO of 6 Degree Shift – is a master at teasing the metaphor out of every circumstance. A hoarse voice becomes a symbol guiding us towards the need for silence or discretion; the recent glut of rain might be a sign of purification or abundance.

The beauty is, we choose the metaphor; we design the lesson according to what we need to learn. The process of ascribing the meaning of the metaphor is itself the learning. It is a discipline to seek the metaphor and apply its teachings.

Lessons from load shedding

Based on this insight into the power of the metaphor, it would be a huge missed opportunity for us as South Africans not to do like my friend Rama and tease out the lessons from load shedding. It is such a stark and abrupt intervention in our daily lives, it must surely be a teacher of sorts! Of course, we can and should actively and vocally protest the mismanagement and corruption that has led to this nightmare, especially those of us who’s livelihood is impacted every time the lights go out. But it would help us to manage our anxiety and anger if we were to ask questions of the lessons from load shedding.

The new dawn

The metaphors are numerous and powerful: The darkest time of night is always just before dawn. This would lead us to the belief that there was indeed something prescient in President Ramaphosa’s notion of a New Dawn. With hindsight, that vision was premature. With load shedding as the metaphor – it is right on time.

The dark night of the soul

Then there is the metaphor of the dark night of the soul; that great cloud of depression that descends and hovers so oppressively for so many people but that is usually the pre-cursor to great break-through, revelation and insight. Each of us – if we were able to stop and look carefully into the darkness of load shedding – would be able to find our own powerful personal lesson in the darkness. My invitation to you is to spend some time these holidays doing just that.

2020 – the year of light

As 2019 ends and 2020 begins perhaps load shedding might help us to choose a different ending to the story; that light will follow darkness, and all will be well in South Africa. Perhaps we might choose to believe that the darkness will give birth to something new and wonderful. And that we might all be better off, as 2020 is the year of light for our country.

And the metaphor for the inevitable end of load shedding?

Light will be shone into the dark places of state capture; evil people will be the one’s captured; looted money will be recovered; SOE’s will return to good health and light will begin – as it always does – to triumph over darkness.

This column is proudly sponsored by Partners for Possibility (

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