Our National and Collective Response to poverty: A South African Perspective

Living in a third world country is its own adventure more than a hardship, for many people the thought of having to drop their standard of living to enjoy life can be an overwhelming expectancy, which is why we see many first world citizens entering our country to pay their dues, to give back to the community because some people feel that they need to save the world.

South Africa is a beautiful country in its own right, situated at the foot of the African continent this country almost demands people to notice it and all that she has to offer, which to be perfectly honest is a once in a lifetimeexperience which many people get to taste and more than once will they come again to experience the unique flavoring of people, culture, animals and terrain South Africa has to offer.

Now from a tourist’s perspective seeing a country like South Africa can and often seems like a likely place to go on holiday, and why not? Most of our economy comes from tourism, the rand is weak against most other worldwide currencies and as mentioned before the culture and wildlife are enough to get almost any adventure seeker ready to jump onto a plane and fly to South Africa to begin their ultimate family or solitary getaway.

However, South Africa doesn’t have the clean history as many people believe it to have had and expect a country like South Africa to have, there is a reason why the constitution in South Africa is one of the best human rights constitutions in the world if not the best constitution. This is because of South Africa’s dark history called Apartheid.

Pre-Post-Apartheid

One of the darkest times for Southern Africa created one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen, if you listen to his story you will discover a man you at one stage many people considered to be a domestic terrorist and a generation considered him to be a freedom fighter who eventually after 25 years of forgiveness where he not only forgave himself but those who had wronged him, became a leader amongst men and one of the world’s greatest peace symbols. This man was of course named Nelson Mandela.

I will never forget the day that Mandela was giving the newly formed democratic country of South Africa a speech which included one of his infamous quotes on his views on poverty in South Africa and the rest of the world, here it is below;

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made, and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

In this quote, Mandela was referring to the extreme cases of poverty in which our country was currently facing.

Which at the time did not seem like too of a big deal as we as a country had banded together and defeated a system that was not only named after its purpose but was based on some of Nazi Germany’s ideals, called Apartheid – meaning to separate.

One of the main reasons why the country was almost doomed to start off with regards to the high levels of poverty was mainly because of some of the land and segregation laws which the previous apartheid government had passed in order to control the masses.

When the ANC came into power there where many promises made, of which one of the promises that where made was the eradication of poverty, however after making these promises the new government soon discovered that if they educated the masses and made the masses wealthy that soon there would be no job for them to do, which started to bring in a new problem which the poorer areas soon started to feel the most, and that was the effect of corruption.

Now from a South African point of view, the effects of corruption is like having a cough that refuses to go away, no matter how many times you treat it with medicine it will keep on coming back until you end up having the root issue removed completely, however, the root issue is the part that is telling everybody that it is not the issue.

This is what is it is like living in a poverty-stricken area, you and eight other people will more than not end up sharing the floor of a 4 cubic meter room made from shatterply and corrugated iron roofing held down by a tire or pumpkin or two.

All of your clothing has holes in themselves and trying to find running water that has not been polluted is a 3km trip to the nearest municipal tape.

Food and drinking water are not easily available with some children going to school with only an 3 rands packet of juice as breakfast and lunch.

These children and families have no electricity or even internet, (I know the horror), but these families still survive and some of these children that grow up in this environment become some of the most amazing people who all excel in the business world.

Conclusion

I guess until the entire issue of poverty is solved worldwide there is really no real way that I can really end this article besides from saying that it is good that other world icons like Gandhi and Mother Theresa also have committed on the problem with Gandhi saying,

“Poverty is the worst form of violence”

And Theresa saying something similar,

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for.”

Now, these three leaders have picked up something that needs to change and that is the end of poverty is a need for human survival.

I want to end off saying that money is not the root of all evil but rather that absence of money creates evil intent.

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