Communities Fearful to Love

My childhood has been filled with uncles, aunties, grandparents and the extended family. Technically everyone was considered family – the butcher, the baker and even the candlestick maker – everyone was to be addressed as an uncle or an aunt. If we were to be found misbehaving in public – it was the community’s ‘right’ to discipline us.

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My childhood has been filled with uncles, aunties, grandparents and the extended family. Technically everyone was considered family – the butcher, the baker and even the candlestick maker – everyone was to be addressed as an uncle or an aunt. If we were to be found misbehaving in public – it was the community’s ‘right’ to discipline us.

How much has changed in the 40 years since my existence on this planet. For today we are now encouraged to an isolated way of life. A life of social distancing, a life which encourages that small, tight-knit communities are harmful to the pandemic.

Naturally we are to expect the rising levels of depression, anxiety, PTSD and segregation. For now, speaking to strangers and opening up to welcoming friendships have been covered by masks that hide the beautiful smiles God has given us to what look like an emotionless engagement of guessing the once all-important body language.

Now if loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you, what other options are out there as an alternative for an embrace, smile or merely the visit of a loved one?

Community life and engagement can have a positive influence on mental health and emotional wellbeing. Community participation provides a sense of belonging and social connectedness. It can also offer extra meaning and purpose to everyday life.

Although there are many social groups on Facebook etc… if it does not have the genuine consideration for its member it merely becomes a marketing tool for business marketing and advertisement. Take for example, yesterday a lady on the “I Love Houghton” facebook group was requesting someone to adopt her baby… instead of the admin or its members seeing this as a red flag to assist the lady and reach out – the members seemed to have offered lists of NGOs/adoption agencies whilst a good great many merely ignored her.

We are concerned by what our community is becoming… we are concerned that people’s welfare and mental stability at this time would cause for decisions not usually of character. Hence we have opened a true community page for the people to become a support group, “Houghton Estate Residents”. We should discourage members who use community pages for business motives and those who do not live in the area.

COVID-19 is not just killing people, it is killing “god”

I’m calling the religious leaders of all faiths to seek truth. To take a lead rather than being led. How is that which is spiritual is now afraid of that which is physical? How is it that which preached hope are now hiding under their beds? I’m a Christian and we have not seen our leaders take any leadership from Jesus but the words on their lips are from Cyril… What’s your god saying to you at this time?… Or has he died too?

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South Africa is deeply rooted in the belief that there is a god. No matter which religious institution one follows, the belief is that a higher power watches over their lives. Judaic, Christian and Muslim share a common history traced back to Abraham. Other faith share their beliefs that whatever we believe it helps others and builds a community.

Having a belief system brings a realisation that man is not the measure of all things and that one’s actions need to be accountable. Religion brings a self-discipline that god is watching us and that breaking the law without getting caught does not mean one has succeeded. In fact, it provokes a conscience to guilt which is far greater than the secular rule of law.

When the COVID-19 approached our shores we the people of South Africa prayed, we saw our President humbling himself to call on GOD. This is not the response of a secularist for the science would be the answer looking into the microscope attempting to unravel its make-up. However it’s clear that they are without success – man is shown NOT to be the measure of all things. Instead of taking a rational approach, which secularism heralds it, calls all to hide in our homes.

Secularisation is a process by which societies become more rationalised. It occurs when people perceive that the circumstances around them are changing – able by human intervention. If religious belief, such as fatalism, prevents society from seeing the environment in that way then religion may become an obstacle to modernisation. A rational or secular basis of social values does not accept unalterable or the sacred facts of life.

Secularisation means enabling people to differentiate between the sacred and the profane, the religious world and the world of material objects. It does not interpret everything in terms of a set of beliefs about what is sacred and what is handed down from time immemorial. Those beliefs may remain but people begin to separate them from secular concerns, the latter then being exposed to rational scrutiny.

Now that definition of secularism is clear, but then what has happened to the church? Why did they go also into hiding? The bankers, politicians and medical staff are taking the lead in showing courage on the front line, and showing greater beliefs in the world systems than the religious to their gods. Does the religious institutions not have a contribution? Is there no essential service they could take on – besides yet collecting the tithes? Have the pastors, clerics and rabbis gone into hiding? People are fearful, many don’t understand the spiritual significance of this or is it that religion has no answers?

I’m calling the religious leaders of all faiths to seek truth. To take a lead rather than being led. How is that which is spiritual is now afraid of that which is physical? How is it that which preached hope are now hiding under their beds? I’m a Christian and we have not seen our leaders take any leadership from Jesus but the words on their lips are from Cyril… What’s your god saying to you at this time?… Or has he died too?

Maybe South Africa is in possession of a money tree?

There are statistics which show that only 31% of the population pay tax. So, in light to the country’s financial delinquency to provide “free” money is not a socialistic outreach but one which means we now have a money tree, or we are going to hit serious rock bottom in the coming months. Where did this money come from? Are we selling off our country one bit at a time until the entire country is swallowed at the hands of the cursed?

South Africa has for more than twenty years struggled with balancing an economy, low levels of education and high unemployment. There are statistics of approximately more than 7 million people go to bed without food every night. The government has been the ruling party since its freedom in 1994. Inefficient and ineffective government bureaucracy, restrictive labour regulations and a shortage of skilled workers as many leave to work abroad. 

With notably high rate of murders, assaults, rapes and other violent crimes compare to most countries, South Africa seem to have turned a blind eye to the many issues the country faces.  I personally have requested crime statistics from my local police station and was told that these statistics were not “available” to the general public – so much for transparency in a democratic society.  In recent months prior to Coronavirus, South Africa’s economy appeared wounded and awaiting the vultures – as SAA, Eskom and other National entities all showed the similar characteristics of poor management. 

The only stability and guarantee South Africa has, during the current constant changes, are the inefficiency of those managing the country’s resources. Miraculously, amongst the many commodities – South Africa has grown its own money tree – for how else could we account for the R500 billion once off stimulus into social and economic support package at a time when there has been the greatest lack of productivity the country has ever experienced due to the COVID-19. Yet we now see more has been provided for the population to do “nothing”. This is not a hand-up just another spirit of entitlement. 

There are statistics which show that only 31% of the population pay tax. So, in light to the country’s financial delinquency to provide “free” money is not a socialistic outreach but one which means we now have a money tree, or we are going to hit serious rock bottom in the coming months. Where did this money come from? Are we selling off our country one bit at a time until the entire country is swallowed at the hands of the cursed?

The future generations of South Africans would look back and not see great men of sacrifice, instead history will show that they cared only for themselves. There is no shame in that, posing as socialist and manifesting capitalistic tendencies are but a shame!

Did SA Lockdown too Early?

Sweden uses science and evidence to implement a different strategy, a lone voice in fighting COVID-19. However, Austria, Denmark and Norway and amongst others are also now lifting the lockdown… No not us… we let others think for us. Look at the protest in Michigan, US, the people are not having it – “We will not comply!” – they realise their civil liberties are at sake – wake up South Africa!

We all watched, read and some tasted the beatings of those enforcing the public to “STAY AT HOME”.  A truly unprecedented time facing us all – warning us that those who disobey the lockdown “place everyone at risk” with objective to “flattened the curve”.  We the people like herd-minded individuals must obey the authorities. 

To those well-off this was a good time to recharge and reflect, however to those living “hand-to-mouth” this could not have come in a worse time ever, for not to work means not to eat and question how they will survive.

Now much of the world has been in “lockdown” unable to go outside apart for the purchase of essential items. What is considered “essential” are defined by the subjective priorities of the government’s interests. Stock Exchange, Banks and major corporations are willing to go as the “sacrificial lambs” to keep the country above water – but your livelihoods are not as “essential”.

In addition, religious institutions, despite adhering to the policies, are not considered essential despite the much benevolent givings to society, physically and spiritually. The sad reality is that the institutions had not challenged the directives of their authorities depicting as a vital service to society. Currently with much of the population locked indoors, with limited capabilities of engaging with family, neighbours and friends – we will soon reap the aftermath of psychotic behaviours created by these actions taken. 

There are plenty of studies to show of how isolation affects people and the mental disorders it creates. Have our authorities considered the response to the aftermath? As some governments have already begun to get itchy feet and now prepping its people to do a U-turn by sending them back to live as normal… for calls to stay at home echo no long-term strategy.  

what did we stay at home for? To see the economy plummet, or to see our jobs lost?  The virus has not run its course yet – so why let us go out now or “phase” us back as they say? Why, is it because this may not have been a wise strategy? It’s also a shame that religious institutions will be secondary priorities for industries will take a precedent to return to become to “normal” – this is good! I really hope this becomes a wakeup call for churches as I watched them bury their heads in the sand.

So, to be clear, it is eminent that the governments cannot carry on with a lockdown or face the consequences of becoming bankrupt and so could its citizens. This was a stupid idea and they swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker – now what?  Wasted effort of a suicidal attempt.  

Sweden uses science and evidence to implement a different strategy, a lone voice in fighting COVID-19. However, Austria, Denmark, Norway and amongst others are also now lifting the lockdown… No not us!… We let others think for us.  Look at the protests in Michigan, US, the people are not having it – “We will not comply!” – they realised their civil liberties are at stake – wake up South Africa!

People are Panicking 🤷🏾‍♂️🙆🏾‍♂️

Should we be panicking, stockpiling and confessing our sins so to prepare for the “Corona”? Whatever one’s perspective of the afterlife – one can’t hide the high-emotions of dying. Twenty-one days of being at home would prove much, for these are times when we are demanded to behave for the greater good. So whether you are naughty or nice – one now has to conform as subordinates.

Despite the reassurance from the South African government, citizens are panicking in the frantic mode of stockpiling and preparing for what looks like a doomsday movie. The shopping centres are packed and it appears business as usual – but for retailers it’s Christmas comes early.

Should we be panicking, stockpiling and confessing our sins so to prepare for the “Corona”? Whatever one’s perspective of the afterlife – one can’t hide the high-emotions of dying. Twenty-one days of being at home would prove too much, for these are times when we are demanded to behave, behave for the greater good. So whether you are naughty or nice – we all have to adhere to the notices. We can’t jump the queue or request special privileges.

For those “born-free” without the need for anyone guiding as they chart their own course are now demanded to do as they are told. How is this all going to play-out? How would the many who are on temporary jobs survive this pandemic? Which has not just affected their livelihoods, where in fact now the effects may cause higher crime as people become desperate.

“Stop calling for SOCIAL distancing”

We should never show prejudice to anyone’s illness, in doing so would be disrespecting, degrading for something that is beyond their ability to control. This COVID-19 virus is nasty for it’s turning us to selfish and self-centered people. Everyone wants to be prepared and that we are doing so without the consideration of another.

Everyone is saying that we should have social distancing – this goes against our community dynamics and further divides our already divided country. Instead of calling it “social distancing”, rather refer to it as “physical distancing” for this would be more appropriate as all that is going on in the country and the issues we face – we need each other and not to have social interactions is an absurdity.

Serving our community

We should never show prejudice to anyone’s illness, in doing so would be disrespecting, degrading for something that is beyond their ability to control. This COVID-19 virus is nasty for it’s turning us to selfish and self-centered people. Everyone wants to be prepared and that we are doing so without the consideration of another.

There is a growing taboo on anyone sneezing, coughing or showing any common signs of illness. We know that this is impossible in cases of hay-fever or the common cold, and now we are frowning upon such natural seasons of life; believing anyone showing any signs of Corona is a threat to your “sterile” life.

We must be courteous and kind in showing love to our neighbour – therefore as a gesture of love, IVOTESA, has gone into the community of Orange Grove to provide liquid soap to the unemployed. As the country stockpiles, there are the marginalised who are isolated, cut-off, and unable to purchase or stockpile. Many a times, they would go to the shops with little in their pockets only to find the shelves empty. In their desperation, there are the opportunists using the coronavirus crisis to hike up their profits without any consideration for the poor or needy.

Soap is only a small gesture, of now a very basic necessity. We are only as clean as our weakest neighbour. Let’s strengthen everyone around us at this time.
IVOTESA is looking for any donation of soap and cleaning products for us to distribute. We are also looking for volunteers willing to serve our community.

We are tired of your politics!

Voting is a massive responsibility not to be taken lightly. Now I am sure most people would say, such a situation would never happen but in history it actually did…’one vote is what made Adolf Hitler the President of the Nazi party.’ So, we should never believe our votes don’t carry weight and that our votes are not important.

I personally do not vote because I believe that the biggest change that I would like to see is the idea of a ‘’rainbow nation’’ to become a reality first before I can cast my vote. I say this because right now the idea is so farfetched and I believe that it is because South Africans are still healing from the past and the effects of the Apartheid regime. I would love to one day be able to see a South Africa where race is not an issue and where people are clear from their preconceived ideas about a specific race. I would also like to see a corrupt free South Africa in which the resources are appropriately allocated and distributed to benefit every single South African citizen.

To see that I wasn’t alone or a ‘’bad’’ citizen, I wanted to know what my friends takes are in this matter. One of my good friends said, ‘’I don’t vote because no matter what party you vote for, it never makes a difference to the country. They all promise you things and never fall through with it. So therefore, I find it’s pointless to vote.’’ Azraa (my friend) went on to say, ‘’I would like to see a South Africa without power cuts, with cleaner streets, safer areas, better police force and security services, better health care; especially in the government hospitals and a country without racism.’’ I then asked her what kind of a party would she vote for, she answered, ‘’A party that does not make any race superior, that stays true to their word and provide for the country what they have promised.’’ Azraa is one of many who have stated that they want every race to be treated equally, now that says a lot!

I also have friends who are not South African citizens, so I wanted to know their thoughts on the matter of not being able to vote. Neto said to me, ‘’It makes sense not to be able to vote. If we let foreigners vote, they could completely alter the political structure of a country and then leave the next day. I wouldn’t want South African foreigners to be able to vote in my country.’’ That is a deep and honest answer, which in turn makes me proud of the people I surround myself with. It is important for my generation to talk about these issues whether you’re a citizen or not, we can’t always talk about boys and parties. Like Nelson Mandela once said, ‘’the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.’’

My friends and I want to see change in this country and we are basically tired of being made fools. Do you feel the same way? Being promised empty promises? The world sees us as a joke because of our Parliament. What are we teaching the upcoming generation? Sometimes I believe that they are doomed and they have been for a while now. Heck, our generation in some ways is screwed too! Unemployment keeps rising, global warming, melting of ice caps, burning of forests and so on. They’re screwed in more ways than one. But another friend of mine is more optimistic, saying, ‘’we need to be hopeful that the future of the country is in our hands. I mean imagine if Steve Biko, Mandela, Winnie Mandela thought that their generation was ‘doomed’ and did not do anything to change that? I think we have more challenges but there’s still hope,’’ I then asked what could be done to better the upcoming generation after us, ‘’our starting point, we first need to correct the mistakes that were done in the past by the older generation and only from then onwards can we start building the country or the future that we want. In doing that we know that the world is changing at a ridiculous rate and how to keep up with the Western world but at the same time be reminded that we need African solutions for African problems.’’

I believe that we cannot just rely on the government for the change we want, it starts with you, then the household, then your neighbours and then your community. Young voters account for half of the voting population, making them a powerful political force. Should we suggest that the voting age should be lowered in an effort to promote earlier voting among teenagers and young adults? After all we are the change. We are the movement!

Each individual in a community has a responsibility to contribute by voting for a political party that is in alignment of their beliefs. It is the least an individual could do to contribute to changing something they are not happy with on the grander scheme of things. It is quite a powerful thing when you think about.

A lot of my generation say they do not vote because nothing changes, but what they do not know is that it is not true. Even if a specific party does not win, the number of votes they get affects how many seats they get in Parliament, and that’s a big deal. Say, for example, the ANC gets 60% of votes. Let’s also say that day a feminist party gains the other 40%. That means even though the ANC remains the ruling party, they have 40 less seats in Parliament. Which means that’s less control they have over the government and forces them to address matters of concern raised by the feminist party. So even if your party of choice does not win, you’ve already made a considerable difference.

Now let’s say 3 people in the entire country vote because everyone else couldn’t be bothered. Let’s say those 3 people voted ANC, they then have 100% of the votes. This means they have 100% of the rule. I am not sure of the number, but if ANC makes a certain percentage of votes, by law they’ll have enough authority to even change the Constitution. That is an important thing to keep in mind.

Now let’s consider one last scenario; let’s say the feminist party ties with the ANC, though they could have won if they had just one more vote and let’s say that you were the only person who didn’t vote that day. Your vote would have been the one to tip the scale either in favour of the ANC, or the feminist party. Scary right? As it should be. Voting is a massive responsibility not to be taken lightly. Now I am sure most people would say, such a situation would never happen but in history it actually did…’one vote is what made Adolf Hitler the President of the Nazi party.’ So, we should never believe our votes don’t carry weight and that our votes are not important.

‘’Not voting is not a protest. It is a surrender.’’ –Keith Ellison

My name is Kerrie (22) – an eye opening and learning experience.

Today was an eye opening and learning experience, as I got to see how the other side lives and tried to also play my part instead of turning a blind eye. I went to Reiger Park not knowing what to expect, but we must remember that in life our expectations do not always turn out to be the reality.

Helping the penniless is often thought to be determined by the moral character of the potential help giver. ‘‘It’s a lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.’’ Of course, I cannot take all the credit, with the help of some kind-hearted volunteers, we managed to pull strings in a very short period of time to help those in need.

Meals Prepared by the volunteers

Our pursuit to secure a sponsor from our local businesses to get food and packaging was a bump on the road moment. From each person having a different mindset on what product/quality they would like to buy for the project, with a limited budget was a hair pulling struggle but in the end – by God’s grace- we managed to get on the same page and focus on the real matter at hand, which was to feed the needy children.

Many kids grow up in poverty and the effects are saddening as it can last for the rest of their lives. The main effects of growing up in poverty may include poor health, high risk of teen pregnancy and lack of education which results in them making bad life decisions such as joining gangs and selling drugs.

One of many people in my community decided to act and join the cause to alleviate poverty in the youth. Mizanurrhman, a local grocery shop owner, was the hero of the day. He was more than willing to sacrifice profit over charity and was one of the reasons the feeding scheme in Reiger Park was a success, saying ‘‘I am so happy to join IVOTESA, thank God we’ve done a wonderful job. We continue and try to make a difference in the community. I will always try my best to support people in hunger especially children.’’ Mizanurrhman supplied us with bread when all odds seemed against us, he supplied us with an improbable discount and more food items that was not budgeted for.

Now this is what communities need more of. Mr Vincent, a local in Reiger Park, is another man we must shine our light on as he donated his container for us to be able to feed the children in even though he did not have much. No man is an island! More organisations for feeding the less well off are being formed in Reiger Park, so I ask you my Born Frees; what are you doing to alleviate poverty in your communities? What do you think the purpose of life is?

Shane Abrahams from IVOTESA is playing his part by providing skills and creating jobs. Shane gave the community of Reiger Park hope by showing people how to make soaps and forming businesses, which is a step in the right direction.

Shane Abrahams teaching the community to make soaps

The cycle of poverty begins when a child is born into a poor family, these families often have limited or no resources at all to create opportunities to advance themselves, leaving them stuck in the poverty trap. We need to count our blessings every day and be grateful for the littlest of things we have in life.

Today was an eye opening and learning experience, as I got to see how the other side lives and tried to also play my part instead of turning a blind eye. I went to Reiger Park not knowing what to expect, but we must remember that in life our expectations do not always turn out to be the reality. We do not know whether the food we gave out today could have been someone’s last meal. When we do it in love, when we give and do not receive, it is okay because someone is blessed regardless., this is what I learnt from IVOTESA. I look forward to more projects like these and bigger, remember one man can’t change the world.

Working as a team

‘’One of the worst enemies that sets the platform for developing a poverty mindset is your background. Where you come from, the mindset of the people you deal with, what you know, and your experiences can set the tone that can cause you to believe that you are born to be poor. You can only get out of that dungeon of a mindset by revolutionizing the way you think.’’-Oscar Bimpong

“I want to become a drug dealer when I grow up”

What would you like to become when you grow up? A question we all heard when growing up – a question which expressed the ambition and expectations children once aspired towards. Doctors, lawyers and teachers were once some of the answers…. Sadly that is not what I heard yesterday. Several teenagers no more than 15 years old boldly expressed their desires to become drug dealers.

I was taken aback before enquiring why, and their response was, “it’s the money!”. We are living in a society which prizes money above the sanity of life. Who can we blame? The government, their parents or maybe their teachers? How far have we come away from the compass of morality? How far have we wandered outside of Eden that our kids can’t see true role-models anymore… How sad!

ABOUT REIGER PARK

Reiger Park is a coloured township situated in Boksburg in the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, South Africa. It was established as Stirtonville after the Second World War when people influxed from rural areas seeking work on the gold mines. In 1963, due to the apartheid government’s policy of separate development, the black people were moved to Vosloorus, the Indians to Actonville and the coloured people were left to stay in Stirtonville, then renamed to Reiger Park.

The locals have given their own unofficial names to the different areas of Reiger Park, for example Jerusalem (due to the many churches in that area), Excuse Me (due to the houses so close together that when you sneeze, your neighbour says bless you) and Popcorn (a new area developed in the 1990s with the houses popping up so fast that they were likened to popcorn). In 1997, the Popcorn area experienced violent rent boycotts; in 2008, it was one of the sites of violence during the anti-immigrant riots, beating and burning émigrés on streets described as “war zones”.