Today was my first time in Khayelitsha. The first time I encountered Khayelitsha was my first trip from Cape Town International Airport coming for the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship interviews. I was with my friends who had been to Cape Town before and had spoken so highly of it; the grand metropolis, the New York of South Africa or something to that effect. So I had this wonderful image of what it would be like driving through Cape Town for the first time...the land of milk and honey.
I was crestfallen.And today was a reminder I why was crestfallen.It's different seeing Khayelitsha and all the shacks and sand everywhere. It's different when you can actually see the people and hear their conversations, the bellowing gospel music from the shops screeching about a reality that is nothing like the one in this township. Today, I had to travel from N1 city to Khayelitsha. I took a taxi to Elsies River in order to find a taxi to Khayelitsha, when I got there a taxi driver told me I had to take a taxi to Belville. When I found this taxi,I was delayed in Parow.Eventually I arrived in Belville and found a taxi going to Site C in Khayelitsha. This took me and hour and a half and R40. I am amazed at the disconnections in South Africa. I don't blame people who live in the suburbs who have no idea of another reality apart from their own.The admin of getting out of ones comfort zone and seeing the reality in townships such as Khayelitsha is made impossible by simple structures such as public transport.
Eventually I arrived and was dumbstruck at the level of squalor that close to a million people have to call home. I haven't had a charmed childhood and I understand the struggles in South Africa first hand but I had the buffer of a good education that worked out the way it did by the grace of God (people never believe me when I tell them I went to Clarendon Girls High while both my parents were unemployed for most of my school going years). The real reason for this trip(I wasn't really site seeing) was to meet up with Equal Education. Meeting the Equal educators, the staff members and the learners at the youth group was worth the trouble. I met a group of people who reminded me that it's still a good idea to make time and conscientise learners about their rights and role in a democratic country. I was reminded that it's okay to hope that things will change in SA, but not without the work and the sacrifices. Everyone in that organisation sacrifices their time and energy for the learners that they work with. I caught a glimpse of why equality is an important ideal to keep pursuing and why it is important for me to keep hoping that things will change. At least I'm prepared to die trying, rather try than live comfortably knowing that other people don't have the basic necessities, not because they don't want to work for these, but that there are complexities in their lives that need a collective effort to overcome.
So I'm sold, I'm an equaliser, though I'll do what I have to do in a city that does not involve an hour and a half in the traffic to be part of the change. I'm happy with Grahamstown, where I can walk everywhere and take one taxi when necessary and I'm happy in the Eastern Cape...for now, we need more equalisers here too!