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Traversing The Divide

July 6th, 2009 19 comments

townshipThere is no greater burden than the burden of opportunity. That is the best way to sum up the emotion underpinning the day I first realised I was truly South African. Never discounting the sacrifices of those to afford us the liberties we now all have, the challenges still remaining cannot be ignored. The first two sentences sound overly political, for which I apologise, but follow me here: sitting with a group of friends fast approaching the end of high school and discussing what our future plans were, most of them spoke as if their plans were limited to that which they could do, as opposed to that which they wanted to do. Some spoke of working in mines, others banks (as tellers) and the others resolute to whatever they could get. Here I was plotting how to get my record label off the ground, as well as the additional businesses I had in mind, and also when exactly I intended on actually getting round to university. Two very different sets of outlooks, obviously.

See, the thing is, I grew up very well educated and with tons of opportunity that my mother worked hard for. Political developments meant that my generation was the first generation whose formative years were spent in suburbia and who went to “model c” schools. Yet, obviously, one’s entire history does not move in one generation, and therefore I spent my entire holidays in a township called Thlabane on the outskirts of Rustenburg. So I had two sets of friends whose worlds never mixed, my friends in the hood and my friends in the ‘burbs. As a result, two sets of outlooks, two sets of perceptions, two sets of expectations and perceived entitlement.

suburb_2My story, not being at all as unique as it sounds in writing, meant I was exposed to two worlds – at times wholly different and at times overlapping more than some think. Yet, the whole “feeling South African” stems from realising that not only is this country’s greatest challenge general disparities, but also the human condition. The liberal in me believes that all should have the same opportunities sensitive only to their ambition and not to their social condition. It also stems from the realisation that nowhere in the world can people – individuals and groups – do more remarkable things than in this country. South Africans are awash with opportunity within the bounds of the most remarkable (borderline unbelievable) culture, and maybe, just maybe, as South Africans, our identity stems from this.

Afrigator