Showing posts from July, 2011

a question of belonging...human solidarity

I’ve just witnessed a very disturbing incident: while walking through Peppergrove Mall, I noticed a young man approach a woman driving a Mercedes Benz with his hands cupped as though he were asking for something. The woman was already in her car and she rolled down her window and shouted: “Listen here, go away, you’re not allowed to be here!” As you can guess the guy is a black and the woman is white. This is not a new scene in our daily lives, where black youngsters are out in the street begging from anybody who looks like they could have any extra cash to spare.

What was disturbing about this incident was what the woman said to the young man: you’re not allowed to be here! What does this mean? Clearly the presence of a beggar makes anyone conscious of their privilege and comfort, uncomfortable in a country like South Africa. Everyday we all encounter people who have to go to bins for any hope of something that even resembles food. What makes a difference is how we respond. Do we igno…

Working class issues and middle class concerns

The obsession with race and class in South Africa always leaves me with questions, usually on the brink of an existential crises. I identify with being a poor South African mostly because of the family history and schizophrenic childhood I had and I identify with the privilege few South Africans have mostly because of the education I’ve received in former “white” institutions such as Rhodes and a 12 year education at Clarendon (a school for girls in East London).

What does this really mean though and why does it matter?
Coming from a poor family (both in terms of income and education) means my family has always aspired to move up the echelons of success which has mostly meant benefiting from a good education and quiet suburbs. So we moved to a school in the suburbs and soon realised that we couldn’t afford to be there. Because the school was a public school, my sister and I were never “kicked out” of the school and so we benefited from the better half of South Africa’s education system …