South Africa, my land?
By Maakomele Manaka
‘South Africa belongs to all those who live in it’, except for her own. The majority of South Africans don’t own anything, from property to our education and to what we eat. Rustenburg is a goldmine for foreign investors because of the platinum and yet her children will grow up blinded by the double big Mac and the quarter pounder with cheese, and own nothing.
A very good friend of mine runs a restaurant in town, and from the looks of it he is doing well, though every time we are together, he gives me an insight as to who is really running the property game in Johannesburg and its not the government. He doesn’t own the piece of land on which his restaurant resides and he doesn’t even own the building, the only thing he owns, is the name of his restaurant.
Almost every city in the world has those side-walk-coffee shop-discussions, and I recently found myself in the middle of those long conversations that turned into a debate at some coffee shop in Melville, the topic was land, and it seemed as though the majority of the table were siding with Malema’s nationalization story. I couldn’t help but think if that’s exactly what this country needs, nationalization of the mines.
How do we nationalize the mines when so many black people have an inferiority complex towards each other, next thing we’ll be having privatized armies and children carrying guns half their size induced with drugs and following orders to capture Rustenburg. The question lies not only in nationalization but rather, how many people are willing to share their wealth, our President himself built a huge mansion in his native soil, Zululand, and yet the majority of the surrounding neighborhoods in that area, don’t even have roads and proper water pumps, could our president share his wealth with those people? Cut a piece of his home and distribute it out to some of his neighbors?
Ownership is a ghost that haunts many of us, because we don’t even own our roads, some agency does, and it dictates how we should move and how much we need for us to move.
As an artist, ownership is everything, I own the rights to both my books, and with the little money we made from art, we have our own place that we can call home, though many people still have not grasped the concept of ownership, because Mandla Mthembu had so much Trasnet money, that he invested it into foreign countries, yet he didn’t even buy a piece of land that he can call his own, now the man is dead broke and about to hit rock bottom.
The Nigerian writer Ben Okri says, “A people are only as healthy as the stories they tell themselves”
Until we own ourselves completely, from foreign imperialism then our country and economy can begin to be healthy, and deal with issues of salaries, because every year, the price of living in South Africa increases and yet our salaries remain the same, and that has been detrimental to our health for some time.
So, South Africa belongs to all those who can afford to own her.