The Black-Middle Class suffers from amnesia

2013-08-06 19:19

South Africa has over the years risen to be noted as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This growth in economy has translated into many positive and negative things. One of the positive things is the rapid growth of the middle class.

And this is not in South Africa alone, the World Bank and African development Bank puts the number of the African middle-class at 350million out of a population of 875million. This is little yet notable progress in addressing Africa’s colonial past.

A research conducted by University of Cape Town estimated that South Africa’s black middle class was growing rapidly. It doubled over the past 8 years from 1.7million in 2004 to over 4.2million in 2012. The same year, the number of black graduates exceeded white graduates for the first time in the history of a country dominated by blacks.

This progress is necessary for our country considering that it’s placed amongst the most unequal countries in the world. My concerns are however the ignorance and forgetfulness of the black middle class. Their ignorance is staring to threaten the moral fiber that has shaped the black society for decades.

We are a generation born by strong, wise, resilient, courageous women and men. Because of Africa’s colonial past, these women and men were not afforded opportunities.

Unlike us the new generation, they have little or less education. Such education status dictated that they work as miners and domestic workers. When our parents were away at work in the madam’s home and boss’s mines, we knew we had a parent in our neighbors. With the little that they earn, they groomed us to be the people that we are today.

We are a generation born in black rural and township communities. Communities that were and to some extent still under-developed by our colonisers. However, those communities have shaped and made us the people that we are today.

The growth of the middle class now poses a threat to many values that has shaped us black people into who we are today.

A black middle-class South African now no longer sees value in an uneducated person. A person who has no matric or education at all must not lead or contribute to social dialogue. The uneducated women and men who made them who they are are reduced to small humans with a mind of a child who can be bought sweets for and easily do whatever is required. They are accused of being bought with groceries and KFC for votes. Suddenly, poor people are unable to decide for themselves.

Suddenly, they became too good for the communities they come from. No, I can’t live in a township; I cannot live in rural areas. There is too much under development, there is too much crime, there is too much that, too much this. The list never ends. They just have a hunger to move away from the poor.

Although many of our government policies have failed and created a small black elite and the expense of the poor, they have also created a middle class. This is something worth noting.

Addressing Forbes Africa Forum in Brazziville Zuma said "The growth demonstrates that we are making progress in improving the quality of life and extending opportunities to those who were oppressed only 19 years ago before the dawn of freedom,"

But the black middle class will reject this; they will say government did nothing for what they have. Its like they parachuted onto the middle-class by themselves.

They also became too good for their government. According to them, since 1994 nothing has ever happened ignorantly forgetting that they are on the list of positive that happened.

Tell me, if the government is not responsible for the rapid growth of middle class why did we not see this growth during the apartheid government?

I seriously have issues with the black-middle class. One would swear that their first salary comes with amnesia.

When they talk about South Africa, they talk about “This” country, “that government” “their president”.

They join in singing the Media chorus of a “failing government”. They join in insulting the black poor majority. They are “stupid” “uneducated idiots”. They self appoint themselves to be "poor people spokespersons" and very often they never get the message of the poor right because they have excluded themselves from them.

I seriously have gross issues with a black child that succeeds and out of a sudden becomes too good of his own people.

South Africa is a developing country, a country which faces many problems. One of which is underdevelopment, poor education, health and security.

People who fall victim to this live in townships and rural areas which the black middle class wants to de-attach themselves to.

The growing black middle class is a huge potential human resource that if used wisely can solve some of our challenges.

This human resource means skills most needed by our public sector specifically in local municipalities situated in poor communities.

But the middle class is talking about “this” country. “their government”. These sentiments are concerning, problems we complain about daily will be solved by an active involvement of all of us.

But some amongst us get education, get good paying jobs, move to developed suburbs and complain about a black failing government while sipping wine in their suburban homes. They are more happy to tweet and blog about our problems than getting dirty in solving them.

None of our problems will get solved if we continue to distance ourselves from the government. Nothing will get solved if we become too good for the rural areas and township we come from.

This is my call to the so called clever blacks in South Africa, instead of being using your "cleverness" to point failures, start using it to point solutions. Instead of distancing yourself from our problems, be part of the solutions.

Esethu Hasane is a final-year student at the University of Cape Town in pursuit of a B.soc.sc Degree with Majors in International Relations, Public Policy and Media. Follow him on twitter @Esethu_u and respond to his article.

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