(image from flickr)
To be a voice for the voiceless.
This, I think, is the greatest gift we can give.
We gave a voice to 43 vulnerable families in Soweto-on-Sea.
86 voiceless old people.
Their 240 grand-children.
For 6 months they were left in dilapidated shacks.
Within a week this atrocity started to turn into something beautiful.
As their voice was heard.
And Mr Lexi Pullen of Eldorado Construction resolved to fix what was a massive injustice.
Today, not even three weeks since their voice was heard for the first time, almost half of these homes have their roofs back on.
And there is hope.
Mr Pullen seems to be keeping himself to his promise.
Perhaps, soon, these families will be able to move out of the shanty shacks & back into their homes?
But their furniture, their cupboards, their carpets, their flooring, their electrical installations, which were working & adequate six months ago, have been destroyed.
And no one knows how we’ll be able to fix that.
No one responds, when we ask: who will take responsibility for restoring these families?
Deputy Executive Mayor Nancy Shilwayi, of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, said she would help.
She made a promise.
That was 11 days ago.
But we have no indication that any attempt has been made to keep this promise.
Are these people then not important?
Are they not valued?
Is integrity then not our way?
Do we not suffer, when one of us suffer?
Have we been sucked in by western individualism & selfishness?
Have we been overwhelmed by desire?
The desire to distance ourselves from others & their loss?
The desire to benefit ourselves & only ourselves?
Have we lost love?
In Africa we speak of ‘Ubuntu’: if one is hungry, we all are hungry, if one is vulnerable, we all are at risk.
Has this African-spirit been quenched by democracy & capitalism?
Has it been consumed by aspiration?
For bigger cars & shiny things?
For comfort & luxury & opulence?
Here is the promise Deputy Mayor Nancy Shilwayi made …
She says she is grateful.
She says this is serious.
She says she will help.
Has our word then lost its substance?
And are we okay with this?
Have we become such spectators, ourselves consumed by selfishness, that we do not care?
Or is it that we are so tired, so overwhelmed by our own struggle to survive & provide & have, that we just do not have energy left to love?
And if this is so, what does that say about the society of our making?
Is it acceptable?
Is it liveable?
Is it what we want for our children & their children?
Perhaps Deputy Mayor Shilwayi will still come through on her promise.
Should there not be greater urgency?
If we care?
If we love?
Should there not be a greater urgency to affect, if we live from affection?
Perhaps, in our struggle for freedom, we’ve sold ourselves to another master?
One who owns our being?