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Published: September 30th 2017
Township Livestock ...
... in addition to the chickens and cows you see roaming around.
Geo: -34.0405, 23.0719"One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity."
- Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Perhaps the most infamous aspect of South Africa is the Apartheid Era, and one of its enduring legacies are the townships dotting the country's landscape, a reminder of how millions were evicted from areas designated as white-only, and forced to move into areas designated for non-whites. Like Brazil's favelas, they have become an item of curiosity for travelers, who are flocking to them in droves. So why would somebody want to visit a township, which represents such a terrible atrocity, such racism? It's because for some, these townships represent hope and the enduring human spirit, and also because they
are a reminder of the sordid nature of humans, of what we mustn't let allow ourselves repeat.
Knysna is our home base for a couple of nights, and there are a number of townships nearby, the largest of which is Concordia. A drive through them is an eye-opening experience, the poverty is beyond what most North Americans can comprehend, even in the more affluent townships. Favela da Rocinha in Brazil pales in comparison, as most dwellings here were constructed with scrap wood from lumber yards, and many had no running water or toilets, with residents instead relying on a communal water tap and outhouses.
Our guide for the day was a resident of a township, and we were able to stop at her home for a short while, which was palatial by township standards, with multiple bedrooms, and much larger than the typical dwelling we saw, which are no larger than a small hotel room. It's interesting to note the perspective of a local, who is not only proud to say that she lives in a township, but also will tell you how good life is here now, so much better than in years past.
It really emphasizes how good we have
things in North America, as even what we consider to be complete poverty is many times better than the lives of even the richest of township residents. Oh, that tourist bubble ... popping it every so often is necessary, and a day like today is a good wake-up call. But out of the darkness, there is always a shining light, and it's the spirit of the residents, who seem to always see the positive, no matter how dreary life here appears to outsiders.
I questioned how people here can maintain such a positive outlook on life, and our guide replied "It's Ubuntu ... we share whatever we have, no matter how little, because we are a community." It's interesting to see how selfish rich societies can be, with the rich constantly getting richer, and doing everything in their power to avoid sharing their wealth with others. Yet here, people with next to nothing would hand over their last bit of rice to somebody else, if they felt they needed it more.
There's only so much wealth in the World, and First-World Nations have their riches because poorer nations don't have what we have. In a way, you feel a sense
Increased Government Investment ...
... in the form of temporary schools pictured here, until a permanent one can be built, and more funding for infrastructure and government homes.
of guilt for having so much more, when so many have so much less ... perhaps if more people endeavoured to see things like this for themselves, the World wouldn't revolve so much around the almighty dollar, and the accumulation of material possessions - food for thought ...
A sobering fact about today is that by African standards, South Africa is probably the richest, and the poverty here would be nothing compared to that in neighbouring countries. Even in contrast to other townships in South Africa, the ones we saw today are minute, when you consider that a massive one like Khayelitsha near Cape Town sprawls to the horizon, as far as the eye can see.
When you speak with visitors to Africa who have fallen in love with this continent, beyond the amazing sights, they speak of something special here, something that transcends the tangible. It's esoteric in nature, and likely those that have set foot on this continent are the only ones who can have some grasp of it ... it's the strength of the human spirit, something that can never be taken away by others, no matter how hard they may try.
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