Have just returned from an amazing trip to Namaqualand, in which I was involved in several great community workshops – really powerful comments and issues shared by courageous and determined people.
But the poverty is overwhelming – and all the associated pathologies are there in abundance! The most confronting issue is to witness first-hand, the results of an economic model that has been used for the past decades but that lacks any sense of sustainability and in fact, morality!
The “extraction/consumption” model of crass capitalism – in which large mining interests with their shareholding on the London and New York Stock Exchanges – move in to pillage the resources of these areas, leaving, when the resources are finished, ghost towns of people who have no real prospect of further gainful employment – this model is both inhumane and immoral!
It is a stark reminder to us as those who believe in freedom – what it is that keeps people from being free? We have to look at the deeper issues – and ask the awkward questions.
We have to keep asking ourselves the question, ‘why are hundreds of people still uneducated and unemployed?’ and, this isn’t simply about Apartheid, either – we can’t keep blaming Apartheid for the poverty of the Northern Cape – though it certainly laid the foundation for it. Nor is it about ‘corruption’ which also gets blamed these days for every ill – though it too is present and cancerous. The Northern Cape is one of the wealthiest regions in the country in terms of mineral deposits. From there, untold fortunes have been made by the international mining conglomerates. So why are the people still living in poverty?
The Northern Cape’s poverty is about the presence of a larger socio-economic model of globalised, extraction-based, crass, conspicuous, consumption that places accumulation of wealth to shareholders above the basic needs of the local community. At one level, it is that simple! Need another example of this model? How about this: For the 2010/11 financial year, Walmart’s revenue was $422 billion dollars. This is just under Taiwan’s GDP for 2010 and just over Norway’s GDP. If Walmart were a country it would be the 25th largest economy in the world! We need an economic model based on the values of sustainability and justice – on profit sharing in the real sense of the word!
We need to strengthen our voice – to make clear our voice – to speak this truth to the power that undergirds it! We need also to build our own capacity as citizens of the world, not to be seduced by the materialism of the ‘crass conspicuous consumption’ model. A revolution is required. It’s a revolution about how we view the earth, ourselves and each other – about how we overthrow within ourselves, the grasping desires for material success and trappings – about how we find new ways of being citizens of a sustainable and just world in which every citizen has the right to become fully human – to fulfil their God-given potential!