Ok enough negative tit for tat for now. Let's be positive today.
So on a personal on the ground level, what changes have I seen since 1994 ?
As for me I do get exposed to poverty everyday. My business is based in the heart of a small rural township and I interact with black and coloured people on a daily basis. And due to the nature of my business it's my duty to know their problems on a very personal level.
These problems are all there : poverty , hiv , violence (but almost always happening in a shebeen after too much booze), rape etc but I can honestly say without a single doubt in my mind that things are 10 times better here now than even 10 years ago.
The people almost all now live in RDP houses. Before they lived in those tin shacks suffering from exposure to the weather , no electricity or running water. Garbage lay everywhere and there was no sewage. All the conditions that lead to poor health. Now with the houses they all have electricity which they get a certain amount for free. The rest they buy at about an average of 10 rand per week which is enough to run their lights , stoves and televisions. Luxuries of course they never had before when the women would have to go out and fetch fire wood to make their pot bread and maize. The environment obviously also benefits and the surrounding area is far more wooded than before.
I won't lie and tell you these RDP houses are fantastically built. Some show signs of cracked walls etc, however for the most part those who have wanted to have maintained their houses often using building skills they learn through the public works program.
They now also have a clinic and a cresh for their kids. They recieve all their medicine for free including anti retrovirals. a doctor visits a few times a week and 2 dedicated nurses attend the rest of the time. Not ideal but that's capatlism for you. Certainly better than what they had before.
The school has been given massive upgrades and all students recieve free textbooks , stationary etc. I know the headmaster and he is a sound and diligent citizen. Together we are working on a feeding scheme for the school and have had excellent support.
The public works programs has given hundreds work including a project to fix all the surrounding roads. They almost all recieve government social grants for various things which many families reply upon but survive comfortably.
Crime wise you do from time to time hear of someone stabbing someone due for this or that reason. Booze is almost always involved. It's not chaotic and it's easy to avoid. My business is an obvious target but if something happened here I have no doubt it would come from outside the community. The police have shown excellent response whenever alarms etc have been triggered and I know many on a personal level and have faith in their ability to police the community effectively. I have experiened petty theft on many occasions. On one occasion my lap top was stolen from my car but the next morning they had caught the guy and returned it. He served 6 months in prison with me having to make a short court appearance.
As far as service delivery is concerned we're no model community. But compared to ten years they now have their garbage collected from trucks , clean drinkable water on tap , electricty etc which of course makes for a far more pleasant environment. The roads in the township are not good and this needs to be sorted as many are now vehicle owners(unimaginable 15 years ago).
As it is a rural area most people living in the village work on farms. and earn a meager wage. However many have managed to elevate themselves through the new opportunities on offer. Most houses now have telivision which has been a major catalyst towards normalising the society. Shows like 7 de Laan/Egoli etc are very popular (this community is chiefly Afrikaans) and offer positive black and coloured rolemodels.
The children in the community are still mostly an unpolished lot. There are a group of teenagers I like to chat to about nerdish things. They're well into their computer games and built up a Frankenstine like computer for themselves with a old chunky graphics card etc. I sometimes used to let them play games on my pc or use my internet until ...as teenagers do....they started surfing "unsavoury" sites and we had to withdraw that little right. Point is though there are some techno savy lot and that's extremely promising. Many children from this one extremely poor and uneducated place also attend university now and many more asspire to. The future benefits are massive.
Other than these obvious improvement I can't really explain but everyone who knows this community agrees it's massively better than it was under white rule when they basically were not even on the grid and had no rights or benefits. I would say if the current progress continues many of these people will move into the middle class in the next ten years. The people have hope and goals now. They exist for more than just surviving. Many now rather than just survive have the luxury to be discerning regarding their diets/fashion etc. Before honestly and without exagerattion they could only afford to eat what was cheapest and had to wear what was found or handed down. Now this is far from the case for 90% of them. Allong with the new found "wealth" has come self pride and self worth. Everyone wants to have the nicest house and the nicest cell phone etc but doesn't want to be known as a scollie or tsotsi in such a small community. The good old seed of capalism is well and truly planted.
So there...one man's personal experience of the vitilisation of a once down trodded mess from right under my nose. Are there many problems ? Yes ! Is there little hope of sorting the problems ? A resounding NO ! I personally look forward the the challenges and playing my small part in this little miracle. One of thousands and thousands of similar miracles country wide.
As I write this I can look out my office window as see all the locals dressed in their Sunday best as they return from church. Those that notice me offer a polite greeting. A greeting I would like to think says that while there way of life is far removed from mine we share a mutual respect. A respect formed through knowing we need each other. Our fates, no matter how different are intertwined here in South Africa. And as the African philosophy of Ubuntu preaches, I can not be me without you.
Please feel free to share your own personal experiences. I especially want to hear from black and coloured people but everyone is welcome.
Peace and Love