Inequality on global scale
The article "Get apartheid on your chest" (November 16) motivates me to respond. Two young entrepreneurs designed a black T-shirt with white lettering saying "I benefited from apartheid".
A perceptive person in Hout Bay, where I live, created the acronym Bongo – Beneficiaries of the New Global Order. He was referring to me. Yes, I am a Bongo and I am just as privileged today as I was during apartheid. As a Bongo, I have access to a European passport, a credit card and a bank account. When the rand drops, I am instantly richer. If I do not want to be part of South Africa, I live in my virtual European world, using satellite TV and fast broadband internet. The neoliberal economic system is indeed good news for global citizens in South Africa.
In the heart of Hout Bay there is a settlement, part of Imizamo Yethu, of traumatised people who are refugees from other parts of Africa and job seekers from the Eastern Cape. The inequality between the Bongos and those who migrate in desperation is just as unjust as apartheid was. There is, however, a crucial difference: during apartheid we had hope that eventually the racially defined system would collapse. Today, in our time of global apartheid, where is our hope of creating more employment based on a fair wage structure?
We have many benevolent Bongos in Hout Bay. They have built crèches and quality schools for children from less privileged backgrounds. One Bongo has even initiated the development of attractive township homes.
Yet the influx of the desperate from other parts in Africa is a flood. Living close to Imizamo Yethu, I can almost measure the intensity of the war in the Congo and the loss of hope in Zimbabwe by the number of new asylum seekers arriving at the doorsteps of South African home-owners. South Africa is the country with the most asylum seekers in the world and I salute it for not applying Europe's cruel anti-immigration laws. Yet it is equally clear that refugees create wealth for a small elite because they are cheap labour.
I will not wear a T-shirt saying "I am a Bongo". But I feel just as ashamed about my undeserved privilege as I did about being white during apartheid. – Renate Cochrane, Hout Bay