Sunday, May 25, 2008

being Blunt

Last night I went to the James Blunt concert in Johannesburg. Yes, that soulful crooner whose not short of admirers and often makes headlines for his penchant for two timing and then dumping his model girlfriends. Despite being a slightly built man, he has the stamina of an Olympic athlete and the voice of an angel and possesses phenomenal stage presence. I am not ashamed to admit, that I enjoyed being part of a 10 000 strong audience of die hard Blunt fanatics. It seemed to me that suburban South Africa, from the very young to the very old, male, female and across the race spectrum had ventured out en mass to get a brief respite from what has been a shocking week in Gauteng filled with the relentlessness of xenophobic violence. My own frayed nerves were smoothed over by Mr Blunt and I was pleased he hadn't allowed international press coverage of the current Xenophobic crisis to stop him from coming to South Africa and particularly to Johannesburg. However, when I got up this morning, the fond memory of my evening dissipated abruptly as I opened the newspaper and read through the headlines. I have been trying for some time now to avoid being drawn into the feelings of negativity and powerlessness others in my social group feel about the state of South Africa. I bear witness to friends and colleagues all discussing plans to leave Johannesburg, either to live in Cape Town (it is perceived to be much safer) or the country. Unfortunately these outweigh the number of homecomers I meet. The crime crisis, the electricity crisis, the political crisis, the Zimbabwe crisis, the economic crisis and now the latest xenophobic crisis is one blow too many. I cannot help today to feel a chink in my own armour. I am so sad that my country which has so much potential, with so many good people living in it seems to be in a free fall into a dark deep abyss. As much as I want to be positive, part of being positive solution, also means being in denial. As a white affluent woman, my life here, is something of a sham. It's a sham by the very nature of its duality. The one life is filled with great work prospects (being skilled and experienced helps), nice homes, good schooling, holidays and other luxuries and then there is the other life. A life embedded in a harsh African existence, where many people are just without basic access to employment, food, water and roof over their heads. Roaming among us all are many desperate people without an inch of humanity in them who have been damaged over the years growing up deprived of basic love, food, education and shelter. Our current government refuses to acknowledge we are a society whose psyche is in need of serious help. Mondli Makhanya, the editor of the Sunday Times has really summed it up for me today in his column. We are human and we need help. So many innocent people are being murdered daily for a variety of mindless reasons from petty crime, to xenophobia. I face a personal challenge along with many others. How do we continue to live this dual life, which in itself fuels part of the problem, but also how we stay in it manage our fears and contribute positively to helping sort it out?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not a national, I'm not a homecomer, I'm just a non-national living legally and working in SA.

I am an African, I am educated and highly skilled.

Is there a space for me in in this South Africa?

The thing is with all the xenophobia it's focussed on those who are less disadvantaged - but what about the rest of us should we be packing and leaving too - or are we welcome?

I often wonder but never ask... Is it ok to have that conversation - after all there are others suffering much more than I am...

It's a complex issue and needs an open dialogue... That conversation isn't happening a the moment...