It is time for change

2020-05-14 06:02

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Economic distance – the ancestor of trauma and pain in South Africa.

It’s time for change.

Whenever there is a national crisis, the marginalised always take the hard knock. Be it increasing commercial prices, national strikes, etc.

The poor feel the impact more economically, and otherwise, than the privileged communities do, specifically the white community. In a country with an ugly history like South Africa, this is not surprising.

What is most frustrating is the continual maintenance of what I call ‘economic distance’, known as inequality.

Economic distance as a result of colonialism, slavery and apartheid, which no doubt causes a lot of trauma and pain to the marginalised. And this trauma is manifested in various criminal and social activities.

What seems not to be understood here is, in any given situation people ought to respond or behave more or less according to a presented situation. I used to work in Cape Town for a non governmental organisation (NGO) that helps the so-called street children to get off the streets. One of my colleagues back then, gave a remarkable definition of a “street kid” and said, “A street kid is a normal child responding to an abnormal situation, just like any other kid would do”.

Having said that, some research states that, South Africa is classified as one of the most violent countries in the world. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves these questions, what are the abnormalities that cause people to be violent and be criminals? What are the abnormalities that bring pain and trauma to the people of South Africa, especially the majority in this context?

Violence is an abnormal behaviour and generally unaccepted, but do we need to dig deeper as to what prompts this type of behaviour? In South Africa this is as a result of the abnormalities that continue to be normalised and sustained by the authorities.

Authorities need to ask themselves ‘what is at risk for all us living in South Africa?’

The longer this abnormality is maintained, the longer it will take to bring peace and healing to the people of South Africa.

In this current Covid-19 we see a lot good Samaritans giving food parcels to the poor. A giving hand is never a problem. However, the food parcel approach is the symptom of the abnormality. The poor are given food parcels because there is a structural problem of economic distance. This is a distance that need not be normalised and must be dealt with urgently. So that the young generation of the previously and presently marginalised will not normalise and accept it.

So, as the government rightfully talks of social distance during the time of Covid-19 crisis, I hope they could also be more challenged to talk and work on economic distance that has endured for so long and caused a lot of trauma and pain for the majority of South Africans.

It is time to relook at our structural economic systems and rebuild new systems that will benefit all South Africans, especially the previously and presently marginalised. It is time for a change, we are already late.

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