Today, 9 October, is World Post Day. It commemorates the establishment of the Universal Postal Union in 1874 in Bern, Switzerland. People were able to communicate in writing with others all over the world and these postal services became a vital means of communication.
Of course, the history of postal services is much older. The creed that we know which relates to the US Postal Service “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” and was first said about 2500 years ago by the Greek historian, Herodotus. He said this adage during the war between the Greeks and Persians about 500 B.C. in reference to the Persian mounted postal couriers whom he observed and held in high esteem.
Because of the importance of the postal system various methods of carrying letters “post haste” were developed. In South Africa in the early days of the Goldfields letters were transported by horse. The riders would often develop kidney problems because of the strenuous nature of their rides.
The South African Post Office says: “We deliver, whatever it takes”. So says their website. Except they don’t. They are on strike again as I type this, a strike which has been going on intermittently for three years now. Apparently Post Offices are closed. Allegations of corruption at the highest levels of the Post Office abound and the Mail & Guardian exposed this on Friday 3 October 2014. This is a tragedy for the poorest people in the country. The rich can afford courier services, computers for electronic communication and telephone calls. The poor depend on the non-functioning postal services.
On this day I call on the government of South Africa to get its act together and to start providing the uncorrupted services for which the South African people pay through their noses. A non-functioning postal system is yet one more national disgrace. Shame on those who allow it to continue!