One of the greatest problems in South Africa when you are privileged is you sometimes see poverty as an annoyance. You are sitting down in a restaurant on a Friday night and all of a sudden a group of kids come out doing an local African dance then touting you and tourists for money. And out of sheer guilt (or maybe just a desire to have the group move to the next restaurant) you toss a few coins their way.
Now what if you just took a moment to see it a bit differently. That’s exactly what a young guy born to South African parents but having grown up in Americaland did.
Let me introduce you to Jason Woolf: As a young kid, he came to South Africa on holiday and like most tourists, got to see a couple of buskers. It planted a seed.
Later, as a teenager about to leave high school on another trip, he asked some deeper questions: what happens to this money made by these kids? Does it reach them, or do some adult handlers take most of the cash? Is there a possibility to create “fair trade” busking, a way of ensuring the money given by tourists and locals goes into ensuring the young performers get the cash? And if there is, can we use this to revitalise South African culture?
So cue Jason Woolf today: In his twenties, he took some time out of the USA, moved to South Africa, reclaimed his citizenship, rented a place in Khayelitsha and formed Umbiyozo and started an NGO trying to answer some of those questions.
But let me not talk any more about Jason, let me introduce you to him through this TedX video. It’s worth your 15 minutes of time to watch.