lundi 4 février 2008

The one about Soweto

While reading this post, I invite you to play Hugh Masekela’s song "Bring Him Back Home" :

Bring Him Back Home

This song was written to help free Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years of his life in the apartheid prisons of South Africa.

All right. Now let's get down to business: this is me enjoying a traditional dish of mogudu (cow bowels) for the modic sum of 44 rands (4 euros) in the Nambitha restaurant in Soweto on January 11th.

After the meal, Sylvie took us to visit the community center of Kliptown, a shanty town in Soweto. That’s where she’s been working with the Kliptown Youth Program and that’s where the money I asked some of you to give to her has been transfered. She’s been helping kids with their biology classes, and supporting the cultural activities and trips organized for young people of Kliptown. She’s even learnt some Zulu ! So you can imagine that when she said she was going to visit Kliptown with some friends, we were received like the Royal family.

Here’s a vid about the Kliptown Youth Program :

Something I noticed that is worthy to keep in mind in these troubled days we are living, is that we entered Kliptown with fear. Fear of rejection and violence because we were white rich people cruising the dirt roads of this shanty town with a big brand new car. So we were kinda bracing for something bad to happen. And our fear was very perceivable by the people of Kliptown, so they closed themselves up at the beginning.

But then we were introduced to Thulani Madondo, the director of Kliptown Youth Program. He took us to visit by foot his neighborhood. Kids were swarming all over us, curious about our clique, smiling and trying to touch our hands, to feel our weirdly pale skin. Adults welcomed us, talked to us, without any sort of scorn or hate. They smiled to us and made us feel at ease. Poor people from Kliptown are entitled to hate white people methinks, but they simply don’t.

We then were presented with an improvised dance show the youths performed for us in the community center and here you have the vids :

The ladies :

The little ones :

The youths :

The boot dance :

We were all shaken up by then and when they asked us to express ourselves about the work that the association has been doing in Kliptown, I started the talking by thanking them for their generosity and warm welcome and almost broke down crying. Delphine followed me, and she could not refrain from crying a little :). There was simply too much emotion going on.

I’m very proud of Sylvie and I also said it. She’s been able to establish a solid link based on respect and solidarity with the people of Kliptown. Her sincere altruism has been rewarded with trust and that is something that money just can’t buy. I think the work that the Kliptown Youth Program has accomplished is the example of how we the Westerners should build up solidarity with poor countries: direct interaction with the very people that need help and work orientation based on the assesment of the actual needs and prorities with and by the people.

Giving money away is not useful. Is like giving money or sweets to kids in the streets. This so called « good charity » does not really help. On the contrary. Poor people then only expect from us money and charity. By giving charity, we place ourselves automatically in a higher position. It is not respectful of people. Imagine the first time it happened to a kid: maybe he was walking by the road and some stranger stopped and give him a couple of rands, took a picture of him and disappeared forever. Imagine it happened to you. I would have felt insulted. In some touristic spots in South Africa, you can see groups of kids waiting for tourists to give them money, and if you don’t or give too little, they might insult you. What kind of respectful relationship can you build up with this kind of charity ?

Okey, enough ranting.

The only thing I know is that when we left Kliptown, our fear was replaced with awe and hapiness. And as we were leaving the shanty town, we reflected it and people smiled, waved their hands saying goodbye to us : Sizobonana !

1 commentaire:

s. a dit…

ces vidéos et ton post sont un très joli hommage à tous ces enfants/jeunes et aux personnes qui s'occupent de l'association. :)