Black Tax vs. Ubuntu
In South Africa, during the Apartheid regime, education for Black South Africans was basic (Bantu education), and taught in Afrikaans. Young South Africans were also excluded from tertiary level and mostly reduced to studies such nursing, teaching and policing, with menial salaries thereafter and no sharing of the economy.
Over time, the need for survival regarding the basic necessities of life became the main focus, making difficult to support a whole family. The eventual ‘change’ in the systems of the country meant there was hope of equal social and economic opportunities. From 1994, besides the right to vote, there were promises made for economic empowerment along with better job opportunities.
Today, According to the World Bank, Stats SA and National Planning Commission in 2018; “South Africa is the most unequal country in the world by any measure.” We have surely achieved Democracy, but have we achieved Independence?
According to Land Audit Report of 2017, “about 76% of the population, poverty is a constant threat in their daily lives.” More than 5 million people live in informal settlements (backyard shacks and stand alone shacks.)
After the ANC was legitimized and subsequently won the first democratic national elections in 1994, there have been loopholes in the idea of black liberation. In essence, this was replaced by self-interest in business and politics and employment benefits and other opportunities (tenders/ government contracts were, and still are given to ‘comrades’, and family ties. Even the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment programme was used as a corruption mechanism, even though it was meant to empower honest workers and start ups, but instead the elite – black and white.
The same comrades who once fought for our liberation, are responsible for our Social & Economic Oppression.
In modern South Africa, the struggle for socio-economic independence is as real today as it was under the Apartheid regime. The large majority of black South Africans are still living in rural areas with inadequate opportunities regarding basic necessities such as dignified housing, food and clean, running water, and some don’t even have flushing toilets.
Promises have been withheld by money loving politicians who skim the budget meant for the poor, redirecting it to their individual interests and going without any punishment.
Jobs and government contracts are handed over to generally unqualified/underqualified or unfit friends and relatives, via political favours.
This “state capture” mechanism has left the idea of socio-economic equality in shambles as the unemployment rate from the year end of 2019 sits at 29.1%, 6.6 million people, of which 3.3 million are unemployed or untrained youth. The blame is shifted on to foreign nationals looking to create their own opportunities from absolutely no help, thus causing barbaric xenophobic attacks, most recently in the last quarter of 2019.
Another scapegoat is that of the Covid-19 pandemic, as a further 2.2 million jobs were lost in the 2nd quarter of 2020 and the GDP having shrunk by more than 50%. But the problems have been there long before. The looting of the Covid-19 Relief funds of R500 Billion (est: $30 300 000 000), which is answered till this day, is an X-ray scan, highlighting the underlying factors of our demise – Large Scale Corruption.
These issues need to be addressed seriously as they are the fundamental causes to serious problems such as the rise in evictions/homelessness, unemployment, failed businesses, alcoholism, substance abuse, as well as the increasing crime rate, and silent depression. The youth need to be given more power in public policy as “comradeship” is no longer an answer.
The public school system, especially in township schools, is in terrible shape. Most black run creches (nursery schools) are not up to standard, being more of day care centers that don’t equip children with the necessary tools to set them up for school.
Just as with the schools, they are mostly in neglected and gang ridden communities, making learning even more difficult. This is compounded by the fact that most children go to bed on an empty stomach and largely depend on feeding schemes at school.
Coming from disenfranchised backgrounds, the African youth have to persevere through poverty, gang ridden communities, and underfunded schools which prove to be a challenge in making it through from primary to tertiary school, with inadequate resources that equip them for the real world. This is only reserved to private schools with better resources and an IEB system that sets them apart from the pack.
Mostly around the stages of puberty, to high school, peer pressure and the awareness of one’s own short comings have contributed to gang culture or petty crime just to make ends meet, along with high levels of substance abuse and alcohol abuse. The margins become narrower, as potentially brilliant children can get ‘lost in the system.’
Graduating High School is a major achievement in its own right. After the celebrations, the reality of expensive fees of the higher education spectrum are nightmares come true.
The average university fees can range from R64 200 ($3 891) in the first year, which is expected to rise to R107 600 ($6 521) by 2025 and most likely R165 600 ($10 036) by 2030, according to Old Mutual (BusinessTech). This excluding accommodation, textbooks, increasing food prices and other related expenses.
The #FeesMustFall movement, where students fought for free higher education, was met with a mirror image of the 1976 student uprising, where the police used brutal force in peaceful protests, and violence ensued.
We have plenty of graduates, just as we have plenty of capable individuals sitting on the street corners as they can get lost in the system due to financial struggle, amongst other variables. This takes them away from any decent future aspirations to change theirs and their families’ circumstances by killing their potential.
The average middle class income structure is largely built up from people of management positions, legal practitioners, accountants, scientists and engineers, medical practitioners as well as the most common professionals (teachers ,nurses and policemen and women). These hard working individuals are regarded as the middle class (Black Diamonds).
This is supposed to be a new standard that sets up for economic and social independence, yet it brings us back to the law of Isaac Newton: For every force, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Although their salaries can be enough to sustain an immediate family, the reality of the situation is that South Africa has not recovered from past social and economic inequality.
A number of black graduates can safely say they are the first to graduate from a university/ college in their entire family tree. This means that all of this burden, for the next generation, has to fall on the graduate once he/she is employed.
Internships, quite frankly, are exploitative, with hardly any certainty of permanent employment. However, student loans have to be reconciled and younger siblings and cousins have to be put through school and have their daily needs taken care of. One is morally, if not forcibly obliged to take care of the rest of the family, in every sense of the word.
From the younger family members who needs school fees to be paid, textbooks & uniform, health care, food and as decent a living standard as possible, as you have now “made it” in their eyes. Not forgetting older generation and their needs in terms of running the household with generally several children and extended family living under one roof. On top of the hefty medical bills, family functions and keeping the house together, the list is truly endless. They used their last cents to get you where you are, remember? (Newton’s Law.)
Still, one cannot see Black Tax as one dimensional, because as much as it is a burden on the individual, it is an unspoken duty to take care of those who have taken care of you. This, however, does not eliminate the reality that it takes one you one step forward and two steps backwards in terms of financial freedom.
The government has to regard these unique problems in legislation and the corporates have to take into account these problems when hiring young black men women of disenfranchised backgrounds, who are still exploited by high demands with lower salaries after the challenge of finding employment in the first place. Because with the economy shrinking everyday, jobs are few and far between, and are still given via backdoor dealings, diminishing the chances of the deserving majority.
The Land Audit Report of 2017 also states that “White South Africans own 72% of agricultural/ commercial land.” With the wealth of the land still unequal, belonging mostly to a minority group, this entails race-based advantage in accessing opportunities. A prime example is leveraging land as collateral to secure loans for personal or commercial assets, or simply jumpstarting one’s life.
Many people call it ‘White Privellege’, but in a different context (leaving the past as it was), this is called ‘Inheritance’ or ‘Generational Wealth,’ and quite frankly it is a norm. Yet this seems to be avoided by the middle class Africans when given the opportunity, opting for the lavish, debt ridden lifestyle instead of investing in the future much after you are gone. They leave behind their unpaid luxuries, and no real legacies.
We will forever have the H&M’s of this world referring to us as ‘Coolest Monkey’, and Clicks refering to black women’s hair as “Not Normal”, and the condescending content towards Africans in the TV & Film industry and accept insincere apologies with no real accountability and change. We have given away our power. This is because for far too long, we have accepted a position of professional consumers and not Creators who own their own stories, products and services.
This has to be treated with the same urgency as treating a cancer.
The best chances we have, is by accepting that nobody is coming to save us, and we have to take care of ourselves by:
- ☆Maintaining order and cleanliness in our own neighbourhoods;
- ☆Educating ourselves with our past and take control of our future;
- ☆Re-Educating ourselves with practical Financial Literacy outside of the school curriculums;
- ☆Redefining B/BBEE to benefit honest & loyal workers and start ups instead just the elites;
- ☆Supporting quality local businesses,
- ☆Owning our ideas instead of accepting hand outs/fast money;
- ☆Investing in property or property developments/stokvels;
- ☆Emphasizing on agriculture for African youth;
- ☆Investing in our own Science/Technology based innovations;
- ☆Joining and forming investment clubs (Banking Systems);
- ☆Encouraging healthy constant debate about relevant issues;
- ☆Informing each other of job openings/ opportunities you are aware of,
- ☆Producing & promoting, local and authentic content on traditional as well as social media and through the arts;
- ☆Dedicating a portion of your salary/wealth to empower someone in need as a tithe instead of to ‘prophets’;
- ☆Treating our women with respect and dignity as equals in society, including financially;
- ☆Learning to Love ourselves in our own skin first, and Embracing one another as we are (Unity)
uBuntu can be simply defined by its direct translation, “I am because you are,” and “a person, is a person through other persons.”
This means that a person can only exist and survive because of the people before and around you, stretching deeper than just family ties. When one person thrives, we all thrive. How, or rather, why do we then differentiate between uBUNTU and BLACK TAX?
Charity begins at home. So let us educate each other by differentiating between the needs and wants, and work with one another to formulate proper budgets from our basic salaries or wages, from home, to the outside world. We have to bring back and redefine the idea of uBuntu within our modern economy instead of Keeping Up With The Khumalos.
This means empowering and encouraging one another in any and every progressive way. Honouring the idea of uBuntu, as in before the 1600s, before we gradually and systematically lost our confidence, togetherness and now our moral fibre. There should therefore be an equal distribution of resources, opportunities, ideas and knowledge with the purpose of achieving equal social and economic standards within each community.
Minus the violence, racial oppression/division, and lack of regard for humanity, we can learn a thing or two from the Apartheid government about working in unity to take care of our own. The Chinese, Indians, Arabs/Muslims, Afrkaaners and several other groups practice the art of self-sufficiency via inter-trade and social-economic unity. But when most Africans unite, we are enticed by alcohol related matters and to flaunt superficial wealth, drowning our own potential.
To be fair, if we do unite for a positive purpose, in a level headed and peaceful manner, we are still deemed in a vicious, negative light that suggests division, anarchy and disrespect to our leaders and elders. That means that the foundations of elitism (Black and White) are exposed and shaken, and we are therefore certainly on the right path.
By creating a solid economic base from each household, street, township, city, province (state), we can tip the scales of social and economic injustice in our country and African continent. The more we flourish in numbers, the more exponential our economic growth in each community, inevitably reflecting within our general economy and increasing our GDP without depending too much on Foreign Direct Investment and international loans.
There is no reason to blame/mistrust the entire White South African population in our country because of the past, whereas we are presently the products of our own demise, and on that same note, still hold the power to achieve equality in every sense of the word. Our elders/leaders (Black and White) are so busy holding on to the past, that they are clogging the youth (Black and White) from working together and developing this country to its best and brightest potential.
All peace-loving South Africans of every race, can live in harmony, in a non-racial and progressive society that is truly equal to all. If we call out and deal with our own problems instead of relying on those individuals who clearly benefit from holding on to the oppressive past, we can write the greatest story never told – The future is in our hands.
Return On Human Investments will return back the fortune to the people, and country as a whole. If regulated in a fair and efficient manner, we can redefine Black Tax to Black Tax’ellence.
The Future Is Now!
The IllumiNvture Secret Library presents:
The Future Is Ours
a Natural Light Magazine Production
Written by Tevin NKS
Edited by The Scribes Navy
Pics by: Leo Moko; Mail & Guardian; Lesego Makamedi; Aaron Blanco Tejedor & Miguel Bruna