Dashiki dialogues: Black money guilt

2012-03-09 12:34

Some of my friends like to argue that everyone must suffer serious losses before we can all rebuild a real and legitimate shared future in South Africa.

In other words, for South Africa, or the world for that matter, to heal the historic wounds of racial exploitation, the privileged must walk in the shoes of the poor. Now whether they are right or not, I think the jury is still out. However, I recently felt a strange guilt while being courted by privilege. It was like enjoying the proceeds of a crime in full view of its victims.

Well, I suppose this could be a childish problem. Maybe this is something playground bullies learnt to deal with back in primary school. We all know how that lousy ilk would moer you for your ice cream, take it and enjoy it while you watch.

Because the ones I witnessed seemed to do this repeatedly, I figure they were never haunted by the faces of their tearful victims. At least not like I was when I found myself enjoying champagne and all sorts of treats on the balcony of a luxury train to Durban last week.

I experienced something disturbing as the train lumbered across the Highveld. We were passing near one of our country’s many squatter camps. This particular one was situated near a refuse dumping site, which suggested the people there lived off the waste of the more well-off citizens, literally.

My Swedish co-travellers saw this wound of our land as a photo opportunity, and I watched them jump up and take pictures obviously amazed. Being the only darkie on board, I became the ­go-to guy for all questions related to being black and poor in the land of Springboks and Madiba magic.

The whole thing felt like documenting poverty while dipping our fingers in milk and honey. Now can you spell perverse?

However, the truth is that we need to reverse the inequalities wrought upon us by our painful history of racially bias dispossession. I suppose the process is where the problem lies. For unless we follow the advice of my said friends, there’ll always be some people to whom redress has arrived and those who still languish in poverty.

But interestingly, for those black people who’ve crossed the breadline into wellness, my recent trip announced a new psychosis of sort. It appears they will be victimised by their individual attempts to escape poverty. It’s a simple human quality to empathise. How do you eat cake while your neighbour’s child cries for bread and still be the same?

So our new dialogue with bread only reveals that our cure is as diseased a dashiki as our past.

» Follow me on Twitter Percy_Mabandu

» Tell us what you think: Leave your comment below or comment on our Facebook page or on Twitter @City_Press
» Did you know? City Press has an iPad app. Find us in the app store

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.