I am very fortunate to have been born in a generation that hasn’t
experienced slavery, the oppression of women and apartheid and I’m very grateful. I’m happy that I can study where I choose; have my say in who rules my country through my vote; worship in a place of my choosing and associate with whomever I choose to. Hell, I can even choose to be promiscuous or not, something that was unheard of for females once upon a time. I’m very grateful and consider myself very lucky to have escaped the atrocities of the past.
At the same time, I’m also very much aware that despite my fortunate escape; the after effect of them still surrounds me. It’s there all around us, but we not of that era choose not to see it. These after effects, affect many aspects of people’s lives such as self-esteem, mental schemas and how they are fitting into the world in general. Truthfully, I was one of those people who felt that people blame apartheid for their own failures; but then just have a closer look at what were formerly “Bantustans”, places like the North-West which was formerly Bophuthatswana.
There is a clear division between urban and rural; there are people who live in such a way that clearly contravenes our basic human rights bill and they aren’t even aware. We still have schools that wear the
old black and white uniform. Hell, we even still have schools at which pupils are taught English in Setswana. It can even be seen in the annual Sunday Times “worst results schools”; the majority of these schools are located in the former “Bantustans”.
These areas are characterised by a lack of information; a high rate of child headed households; extreme poverty; high pregnancy rate; high infant mortality; substance abuse and many other negative things. We have a tendency of being judgemental of the people in these areas and condemning them for many of their actions, such as having so many babies, whereas maintaining a child is so expensive. Has anyone ever really stopped and thought about the unique context in which these people live?
One finds that there is no electricity in the village, meaning that there are no TVs; few radios and definitely no libraries. People travel very far for water and toilets are still the old school outside
‘pit toilets’. There is no clinic in the village and to get medical
treatment, the people have to travel to the next town; which costs
money. Now, I have two younger brothers and would honestly do anything necessary to ensure their well being; so, how can I condemn a girl who sleeps with a guy in order to feed 5 younger siblings, who would otherwise expose themselves to many other dangers to quiet the stomach rumblings? How can I condemn a boy whose parents died of AIDS; whose relatives (maybe even his village of origin) shunned him because of this and left him to fend for himself and he had to do all he could for himself, perhaps even finding solace in alcohol? How can I condemn a girl, raped by her daddy; whose mother is running the streets; a girl who was never taught right from wrong and who takes small comfort in sharing her body with the world, when that is the only time she
ever feels loved and needed.
We, who are so much more fortunate, need to understand the contexts in which these people are based and should even go a step further than just understanding. It is our social responsibility to share our resources, no matter how little, with these people. Handing out money won’t do, what about getting pamphlets about HIV/AIDS, pregnancy, substance, etc printed in their vernacular and handing them out? How about spending three hours a week teaching some of the folk, how to read and write? Perhaps one could even donate some time to a school situated there and assist the learners with English or any of their other subjects. You guys can probably think of more stuff that can be done.
Maybe, just maybe, by sharing our resources which include our knowledge; we could somehow light up a torch in a soul, which would in turn do the same leading to a brighter tomorrow, not only for us, but for our fellow human beings as well.