Tag Archive: poverty


bread

It was just another praying through of the Lord’s prayer…

You know the deal, ‘Our Father, who are in heaven, blah blah blah blah

blah blah blah blah, you know, find the rhythm

blah blah blah lips moving to recreate words long worn into you in some ancient school assembly probably

blah blah blah’ WAIT, WHAT?

There is was, middle of the prayer, Matthew 6, verse 11:

11 Give us today our daily bread.

That’s surely a typo, right? Everyone knows it goes, ‘Give me today MY daily bread.’

But it wasn’t…

IT. WAS. ME!

i would so much like to claim the credit for this one, but after 41 years of reciting the Lord’s Prayer, as it has come to be known, the very one that Jesus taught His disciples to share with them some incredible ingredients that make up a good prayer, it took someone else to point it out to me.

The phrase is a call for “OUR daily bread.”

How had i never seen that before?

The words of Martin Luther King Jnr. resonate in my ears, “No one is free until we are all free.”

YOUR NEED BEFORE MY WANT

In the Old Testament of the Bible, the second book of The Torah, in Exodus 16 there is a beautiful story of God supplying the Israelites with a sort of bread from heaven as they wandered through the desert. They were given strict instructions to collect just what they needed, and no more. Paul echoes a reminder to this in his second letter to the Corinthians in chapter 8:

13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

While, in this passage, the writer is speaking specifically about believers sharing with believers, the reference to the community of Israel throws open a bigger picture. That when God provides, there should be enough for everyone. As long as people continue to adhere to the principle of gathering what you need. Not too much or too little.

Or to put it a different way, the call for us to be crying out for the provision of ‘Our Daily Bread’.

In Africa, we have the idea of Ubuntu – i am a person through people, or i am what i am because of who we are.

Ubuntu is the potential for being human, to value the good of the community above self interest.

We love to help other people. i believe that has been wired into our humanity. We see someone in need and something in us instantly wants to reach out and make a difference. However, as we grow up on a planet with a very loud and clear ‘Me first’ personology that is taught and modelled to us almost everywhere we look, i wonder where that particular strand of D.N.A. was reprogrammed?

Could it be that our desire to help others and see justice and equality for all has been curtailed, and even overwhelmed sometimes, by our longing for person comfort and luxury?

i will help you, as long as it does not affect my own personal comfort and well-being.

finding-nemo-seagull-mine (1)

Mine is more important than yours.

Give me this day MY daily bread. And then if there is leftovers, may you have yours as well.

Although that’s not how the prayer goes, is it?

What needs to change in me, for me, from me, the moment the light comes on and i realise that the words are, and have always been,

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

[For some practical conversations about how change can happen in South Africa, click here]

good intentions

i see you

on the

street corner

cold and confused

and want to

reach out

a hand

to lift you up

until

that moment

i realise

that to properly do so

i might need

to take

a step down

[For more of my shorter poems, click here]

i sit

crushed

at my table…

 the inequality

and shameless poverty

i drive past

each and every day

rips open my chest

grabs my beating heart

and begins to squeeze…

completely overwhelming me

as i signal

to the waitress

to bring me another

Yirgacheffe pour-over 

[For more Micropoetry that i have been trying out this year, click here]

babies

a guest post by my friend Sindile Mlingo Vabaza responding to a much made comment on this blog recently about people in poverty, although typically been aimed at black people, having too many babies as one of the main factors of their continued impoverishment:

There are a lot of people out there who are putting up ‘family planning’ as the solution to certain societal ills in the country.

I want to assert that this is a misdiagnosis of the problem.

Let’s look at the facts:

1. Birth rates in South Africa on the whole are falling and have been falling for a while now(largely due to more women gaining access to education and jobs).

2. The population growth in the country is actually down to what the clever people call, “population momentum”. Basically, SA has a large concentration of people who can bear children and who feel the biological urge to do so(ages 15 to 44)… Our growth rates should plateau sometime in the future and eventually decline.

3. The larger problem in society, the root cause of so many unwanted pregnancies and babies is patriarchy and gender inequality.

Let me explain.

When women are given access to proper and sound education and have control over their reproduction(health services, easy access to contraception etc), they are far more likely to hold off having children and in fact have fewer children.

This is a fact anywhere you go in the world.

It cuts across race, ethnicity, religion and political leanings.

4. That’s where the rub comes in. Women are disempowered in this country.

Women of colour especially(because of poverty).

Talking just about family planning misses the larger point altogether…..

Women want to have children. It is biologically wired into them.

The reason some women hold off on children and plan is because their social milieu allows them too; they have an education, career ambitions etc etc

What compelling reason do women in poverty have?

Facing abusive men, misogynistic attitudes, nurses in hospitals who judge them and slut shame them when they want contraception and a future that is incredibly bleak.

Friends, let us not miss the point here.

We must fight for gender equity; we as men must stand with women not only because it is right but it makes so much practical sense for society at large.

The key to poverty elimination can be summed up in one sentence……

THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN.

[For other posts related to South Africa, click here] 

Avuyile

Hi, my name is Avuyile Tu, I hail from Khayelitsha, originally from the Eastern Cape from a small town called Lady Frere. I studied a B Com degree from the University of the Western Cape, majored in Economics and management. Currently I am employed as an assistant finance manager here in Cape Town. I am the first born son at home; I am a Christian, passionate about Christ and serving my people. I write poetry on the side for relaxation and trying to voice out the pain of the nation.

In today’s South Africa, everyone is deemed to be free and lives in a democratic society. To be free means freedom of speech, one can enter places which were specifically classified for different races under the regime of apartheid.

Now that is all said and done, but the real question is, are we all really free? This now presents a challenging and very sensitive topic to many, who assume if one brings this topic up; they push an agenda of violence and racism. Put bluntly, South Africa today is a free country as compared to the apartheid era and that is a commendable achievement, however, the disheartening factor is that a large majority of the population still live in sub-standard and poor conditions.

It is a phenomenon which one cannot easily miss as it is a big problem for the country. After two decades of freedom and democracy, many of the country’s residents (mainly black), still live in poor conditions. Everywhere around the country you will find people living in unhygienic conditions, without electricity, proper housing, water and sanitation. They struggle to make ends meet and they live in informal settlements so as to be closer to their places of employment.

This brings us to a statement that may seem biased, however, to many it may ring true (many referring to the majority of the people in question). While the whole world may see South Africa as a free country, not all its citizens are free entirely free. Freedom is no freedom if one is inhibited and limited to only certain and few choices and liberties in life. It is commendable that today people from all races are able to mix; it is commendable that we all have access to the same institutions of higher learning but for some it requires more sacrifice to just gain access to such liberties. While the South African constitution lists a whole lot of human rights, many can barely enjoy benefits to basic health, proper housing and sanitation. If one could take a tour through Khayelitsha, one can really begin to understand and to experience the atrocities left behind by the apartheid legacy.

Furthermore, some parts around Khayelitsha still have no proper houses; service delivery is so slow that these areas are prone to violent service delivery protest all year round. Now others may view this as hooliganism but if one would take a moment so as to understand the heart and pain felt by the black living in these conditions, one cannot help but feel their pain. The plight of the people living in these conditions is so dire it can be likened to those suffered and experienced by the people of Zimbabwe during their recent economic recession. (No offence to Zim citizens)

In contrast to the standard of living and the conditions in which the people of Khayelitsha are facing, one would find that the residents of a place like Camps Bay for example, live in a world totally different to that of Khayelitsha. Now the question arises, why would you make a comparison between these two areas? The answer is simple; one is “predominantly” a white area and the other a black area. According to Poswa (2008), “it is estimated that the proportion of people living in poverty in South Africa has not changed significantly between 1996 and 2001. In fact, households living in poverty and the gap between rich and poor have widened.” We all know that the majority of the country’s race is black (about 72% and about 6% white, check stassa) which then translate to a large proportion of the country’s poor. So the above said further encapsulates the main focal point, that white people and black people are still not equal, especially when it comes to economic freedom.

If one could conduct a quick study of the richest people in the country, you will notice that list of those people is dominated by white people. We do acknowledge the growth in the number of black people climbing out of poverty, but what about the vast majority that still has to go through the vicious cycle left behind by the apartheid legacy? Now whether we choose to be ignorant and say that black South Africans are lazy or look at the real factor, that one can never attain total freedom without economic freedom. Furthermore, with the current government, it does not help in the plight of the black nation as it acts in ways that further entrench the legacy and the institutions left behind by the apartheid legacy.

It is sad to be stopped by an armed response patrol unit in a white suburb area and asked what is your business in the area but take the very same person you went to visit to a black community that person will not even once be stopped and searched or asked. It is also disturbing that you have a mother of 4, leaving the house every day at 4:30 just to be at the workplace at 7am. She has to contend with muggers along the way, public transport delays just to make it on time and work 8-12 hours just to R100 for the day but the employer is able to pay that same minimum wage for a meal and pay the waiter R50 tip. From that money she has to have transport fare, food for the kids and other household essentials, there is also tuition and school uniform that she also has to factor in.

Poswa (2008) further argues:

In the City of Cape Town, like the rest of South Africa, there are vast disparities between the wealthiest communities comfortable first world conditions and the poorest, who live in conditions similar to the worst found in developing countries mainly determined by broad socio-economic and environmental factors such as income, sanitation, rather than the availability of health services, it is not surprising that there are gross health inequalities resulting from the history of apartheid. (.p.3)

Now the violent service delivery protests that are showed on the news almost every day are a culmination of the black people’s frustrations with regards to their living conditions. If we continue to ignore all the warning signs, if we continue to turn a blind eye to the plight of the black nation, many atrocities will continue to happen. It is much like the West in helping the African nations affected by the Ebola pandemic, no one has moved because it will not benefit them in any way. We may have the majority seats in parliament but that does not to absolute power as the white many still holds economic power. We have inherited a system that supports and drives the ideas of a white, which ensures he lives a life of comfort at the expense of the black nation.

To rectify and eradicate all the inequity between the people, proper justice should be done which is land restitution. In that way we shall fulfil a section of the constitution that says the people of this country shall share in the wealth of this country. Ideas as to how this can be done I have not formulated yet, however, let us give each other true justice. One needs to remember that with true justice there is pain and sacrifice. As the other party gains what was lost, the other lets go of what they gained unfairly. This does not purport violence against the white people but rather that the white man can listen and hear the cry of the black man. It is preconceived ideas and the feeling of superiority that led to this mess, now it is time to enter through the veil of neutrality and level the playing field.

[Other posts looking at First Steps towards a Truly New and United South Africa, click here]

[For other South Africa-related posts on my blog, click here]

what happened yesterday with the bomb explosions after the Boston Marathon that up til now have claimed three lives and injured well over 100 people [with ten or more amputations that occurred with some of the survivors] was a tragedy.

any time someone is killed it is a tragic thing and more so because this was something that was ruthlessly planned and carried out.

and Facebook knew about it – scrolling down my news feed page there was mention after mention of it with people sending prayers and good wishes to the families of people involved or just stunned that it had happened.

a little bit later i saw online that there had been a huge 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Iran with 40 people killed [so far] and when i went back to Facebook i saw mention after mention of supper and the latest show and movie news and work stuff and i have yet to see any mention of the earthquake.

in fact when i went to find a link to an article on the earthquake i found this list of news items under the heading ‘World News’:

1. Boston explosions: three dead, no arrests, no claims of responsibility

2. Boston marathon blasts: hunt begins for perpetrators – live updates

3. Carlos Arredondo hailed as hero for Boston Marathon rescue efforts

4. Alaska military policeman jailed for selling secrets to ‘Russian spy’

5. Huge 7.8-magnitude earthquake hits near Iran-Pakistan border

So Boston, Boston, Boston, a guy who was jailed for selling secrets, oh and by the way there was this little earthquake that killed 40 plus people.

please hear me on this. i am not saying that what happened in Boston was not a tragedy, but what i am saying is that what happened in Iran is equally a tragedy. what is important when an event like this happens is to be shocked and to grieve and mourn with those who have lost friends and family and to stand alongside them and to also try and bring justice and stop something like that from ever happening again… but at the same time it is so important to keep some perspective – this is not the most tragic thing happening today…

for just a glimpse of the kind of context i am talking about, here are some facts and figures from The National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, which i don’t see happening in peoples Facebook statuses [stati?] or Twitter feeds day after day… and this is stuff that Americaland with all its resources [even just a fraction of their military budget] could prevent:

Overview of World Hunger
For millions of people, the fight against hunger is a matter of life and death. 841 million people in the world do not have enough food to eat, including 153 million children under the age of 5 years. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ estimates that 6 million children die each year as a result of hunger and malnutrition. There is no other natural or manmade disaster that compares to the magnitude of devastation caused by world hunger.

Who is Hungry?
841 million people suffer from hunger, malnutrition and famine across the world; 550 million hungry people live in Asia and 170 million in sub-saharan Africa. In total, 95% of people experiencing hunger live in developing countries. However, hunger has recently grown in severity in countries like the United States and former Soviet Union countries, mainly as a result of poverty.

The World Bank estimates that by the end of 2010, 89 million more people will be living in extreme poverty– surviving off less than $1.25 per day.

The Extent of the Problem

40,000 children under age five die every day from hunger and preventable diseases. That’s 24 children a minute; equal to three 747’s crashing every hour, every day, all year.
The loss of human life from hunger is greater than if an atomic bomb were to be dropped on a densely populated area every three days.
One in every five people in the world is hungry.
More people have died from hunger in the past two years that were killed in World War I and World War II combined.
70% of childhood deaths are associated with malnutrition and preventable diseases.
70% of people in Asia live in extreme poverty.

Boston marathon bombing – tragedy – 3 killed, a hundred injured
Iran earthquake – 40 plus killed, hundreds injured
40 thousand children under 5 die every day from hunger and preventable diseases – we do nothing. we don’t even take time to grieve, mourn.

surely that would be a good place to start focusing our energy, concern?

Nani sending off

So last night there was a game of football/soccer between Manchester United [soccer is one of my least supported sports but if i have ever supported a team it has been Manchester United… and then locally Kaizer Chiefs back in the day when Dr Khumalo played and i always back Bafana!] and Real Madrid in the Champion’s League. Real Madrid won 2-1 but of course there was “that red card incident” with Nani getting sent off…

i was out for the evening playing poker with some mates and so we missed the game, but it took me a minute on Facebook to find out what had happened – not that Real Madrid won or Manchester United lost but that there had been a “worst decision ever” and someone [or a really huge group of people from the sounds of it] “had been robbed” and so on…

i skimmed through one particular post with 30 plus comments in it and then wrote this Facebook status:

Imagine a world where people who cared that much about soccer/football cared that much about poor people…

i am still not quite sure why i did not cop more [or any, really] abuse for it – perhaps cos it was in the early hours of the morning when it was posted and most people missed it [maybe i should repost, hm?] because when i have posted questions about the absurd amounts of money soccer [or really most sports people] get paid, then people have come out blazing… i have never understood why so many of the people who have been so passionate about strongly disagreeing with me on my sports people salary opinion have been christians because i honestly cannot wrap my mind around how someone who reads and understands the Bible and following Jesus and the sheep and the goats story as one example can believe that it is okay for one person to receive $25 million while another person is allowed to die of malnutrition. i don’t think i’m judging anyone, i just cannot get my mind around that.

and not to say that people who are not christians should be okay with that, because i don’t think anyone should, but i do feel like Christ following people in particular [and yes, the distinction between christian and Christ following might be a first clue] should be outraged and upset at the completely ridiculous disparity between rich and poor [and yes, it is not confined to soccer – same with musicians, actors, politicians etc etc – soccer is just such an easy example]. to me it’s criminal. other people clearly think differently. i have just not ever had it adequately explained to me why.

the point with this particular quote though was not about people not being passionate about sport. the words “that much” are the key. i am simply expressing the desire to see people who are so passionate about sport [music, new year, latest Hollywood blockbuster movie] become that same amount of passionate about the poverty in our country, about treatment of women, about the insane levels of rape in our land [you would think something like “rape” merited more fervour than something like a sports match?]

and yes, it is a generalisation because there are definitely some people who are equally passionate about both, but i imagine if [just by browsing Facebook or Twitter after the game] every person who was above averagely passionate about the game last nite had the same amount of passion directed to even just one cause, person in need, situation… that our country would change overnight or within a month or year at least.

next year, there will be another Champion’s League trophy and quite probably a different team will win it. by then, this match will be forgotten. [Like Kony was within a week or two] Nobody will care any more. But they will care obsessively about the next match. And then the following year another Champion’s League will happen.

i find that sport and movies and books and music are amazing things to help me relax or get excited or spend time with mates or find a little escape in… and i think all of that is great. but get passionate, like i mean really passionate, foaming-at-the-mouth passionate about getting behind a cause, changing someone’s life, affecting the plight of the ‘least of these’, seeing someone rehabituated from prison, championing adoption or women’s rights, working towards reconciliation in the face of racism and so on… stuff to really put your life and energy and passion behind…

Imagine a world where people who cared that much about soccer/football cared that much about poor people…

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