Hlengiwe Mnguni

Loving Loxions

2011-01-20 11:00

In the run-up to the local elections we have been urged by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to not only "love your South Africa" but  "Love your hood", to say "Ek smaak my dorp" and "Loxion is lekker". And in a few weeks millions of us will heed that call, turn out at voting stations and make that declaration of love, if you will.

For a large number of South Africans, a loxion - in varying levels of lack of social and public infrastructure - is home. It is where the bulk of our youth is nurtured; the conditions that prevail there (ones that don't often encourage productivity) inform who they become and how they view and interact with the world. And while for some, lack of resources has helped make stronger and smarter people of them – for most it is an unnecessary challenge.

South Africa is changing, skyscrapers are going up higher, national highways are being improved, and we’re looking more attractive to foreign investors.

But the South African loxion - with a few exceptions mainly for tourism purposes - remains the same.

I recently went on my first Gautrain ride from Sandton to OR Tambo International Airport. Although the wet-cement smell had me unnerved as I took the escalators deeper into Sandton earth, as a South African I was filled with pride as the train noiselessly and seamlessly pulled out of the station.

However, my lasting impression of that train ride came when the train stopped at the Marlboro station and a short distance across to the right lay cramped little houses, with no green in between or variation in structure; part of the Alexandra Urban Renewal Project - but still a typical loxion.

It was impossible not to see the contradiction. South Africa is changing and staying the same. The Gautrain experience is a mark of what we can achieve and build on as a country. But it is too far removed from experiences that most people, including those that see it zoom past their barren township every 20 minutes, live.

But with every passing local election I hope real township renewal (malls don't really count because although they offer some shopping convenience, they don't do much for small local business) is pursued with more passion by those who vie to lead South Africans at the most basic level - quite frankly the most critical level of contact between a government and its citizens.

Perhaps there will come a point when it is not a rare surprise for political parties to field some of their best members to local government positions. And by best I mean those who not only understand the needs of the communities they serve but who are also disciplined, qualified and compassionate people.

When I vote in two weeks, I will vote with the hope that those who end up in charge of our beloved dorps and loxions will also share the love urged by the IEC; that they do not only see being a councillor as a step up the party ranks, or a means to (relative) wealth and power, but see being an elected councillor as being part of the driving force that will transform SA townships from places where labour is kept and the unemployed languish into living, working and playing spaces where the environment is not an oppressive force and progress is promised and long-awaited as residents longingly watch progress rush past.

- Follow Hlengiwe on Twitter.

Send your comments to Hlengiwe

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    hlengiwe mnguni


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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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.


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.