Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Imagining Knysna into a brand new World

(One of Ivo Vegter’s devastating images on Daily Maverick)

I have shared the shock, horror and sadness with the country as we watched Knysna burn. In a rare moment of equalising, the fire took from all; rich, poor, old, young, those starting out with first ever homes, those nearing the end of their lives in old age homes, those squeezed into desperate situations in wooden shacks, and tiny rich families in huge mansions on the hill.

The efforts to help people and animals have been heartwarming. We South Africans are pretty good in a crisis. Calls for food, clothes, toiletries, pet food, and money have been met with a resounding response.

So is this not the perfect opportunity to acknowledge that Knysna has a population who live in dire conditions in their everyday lives, where unemployment, poverty, a severe lack of formal housing, TB and other poverty borne illnesses are rife?

I woke up this morning with a dream like vision that every person with insurance in Knysna skimmed a tithe off their claim, and built a second house for someone with no house. Not a shitty little charity shack, but an actual house, a home. Two homes. So, instead of rebuilding exactly what you had in both instances, people with insurance made a conscious decision to make something smaller, cheaper and more modest, and then made another one, for someone else to live in.

I know this will never, ever happen. And because it won’t, the playing fields will never be levelled, and we will never be having the same conversations unless there is a massive natural disaster. And even then, it will be a conversation that happens in that tiny moment before everything goes back to what it was.

But, imagine. Imagine if the brave, heartbroken, wrecked, grateful, passionate mostly white rich people of Knysna decided in this moment to change the town, the province, the country, the world? Imagine.

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20 Comments

  1. Even if only one rich person did this is would make a difference, set an example which might be followed.

  2. SandPebble

    Did I read this wrong, or did you seriously just make this about race?

  3. Dear SandPebble (you clearly white one), I approved your comment because I want people to know there are those of you who do not understand a single thing, and that your righteous anger at me making ‘this about race’, is how deep your white denial goes. Of course it is about race. Everything is about race. How can you not see that? Of all the responses (only positive ones so far) that I have received, yours scrapes the bottom of the barrel in its ignorance, racism, meanness and cruelty. You are why white people are hated.

  4. Megan,
    I LOVED this. I have been wrestling with deep sorrow for friends who lost their home. Close friends. AND, BUT – who knows what the correct word is for this all really, a DEEP grief for people who lost everything and whose networks and resources don’t allow for rebuilding and rethinking about new beyond getting back into a survival space.
    I have also been trying to imagine what a new Knysna could be. The fact that children have in this last week in Cape Town been killed in shacks, whether due to floods or fires makes me angry -those are deaths linked to injustice in terms of how people live as much as they are to the natural disasters.
    Charity is needed less in more justice societies. Maybe all the crowdfunding needs to be building in tithe options too?
    Thank you for putting this outthere.
    Alexa

  5. Rubey

    This is just the most beautiful and heartwarming story……. And, if I were one of those with an insurance payout, it would warm my heart to build houses for others. Imagine the joy it will bring and the goodwill it will help to create? It will only take one person to actually do it and others will follow. This is truly the only way that we can correct the imbalance created by our forefathers.
    Unfortunately there are still many ‘Sandpebbles” in SA – they live in absolute denial of their privilege, privilege that is mostly enjoyed as a consequence of apartheid. Afraid that if they give a little finger someone will take their entire hand. We need to help them too, help them to understand that when every citizen in our country can live in relative comfort and can provide for their families, we will all prosper. They need not be afraid.

  6. This is one awesome dream..hope it touches many right into action ..for love of humanity..for a brighter future

  7. Trevor du Buisson

    An excellent epiphany!

  8. Eileen Shepherd

    Thank you for this. So thought-provoking

  9. Yes! What if they let the Improv’ers run the world…?

  10. Denislav Mylalotovich

    OK. Let’s do it. You move out of your CT apartment to somewhere that’s half the rent and use the extra moola to subsidise your new roommate whom you will import from a shack in Khayelitsha.
    No natural disaster required – just a hands-on approach to socialism, rather than imposing your ideals on anyone else.

  11. Where is the ‘let’s’? And, how do you know I don’t?

  12. Ric

    Love this. Ubuntu in practice ?

  13. I am sorry. I hate my previous response, even though it is true. What I wanted to bring up is your absolute meanness of spirit, negativity and cynicism. If you don’t want to reimagine this country, and you don’t want to level the playing fields, get off the playing fields while we stumble around, hoping we can change the picture.

  14. Noetzie childhood

    Well said, Megan. If only everyone in the world thought like this, there would be no poverty in the world. Ignore the comments from those blinded by race and hate. Shame on them for dragging in all that when all you were saying was how about helping each other, for a change.

  15. Stella

    I hate and love this. Hate and love.

  16. Me too Stella. Me too.

  17. Robert Evans

    I grew up in Knysna and not until I moved to Cape Town did I become aware of what we were doing in SA. My youth was spent playing with the children closest who I learnt later were “not my race”. What are you talking about, I thought, we could race each other just fine. I just feel we are all people and can all suffer or prosper in the same way. So to me this discussion is sad all round. While the government ignores everyone, it is not right to turn on each other, and yes, help wherever you can.

  18. Robert, is it not easy to ‘not see race’ when you are the white person? I don’t think I understand your comment. What are you trying to say? That people in Knysna don’t see race? We don’t all suffer or prosper in the same way. That’s the whole point. There were people in the burning township who didn’t have access to transport to leave! Just think about that. They had to run or walk away from the fire. Please do not tell me that we suffer in the same way.

  19. Eli Konstant

    What an incredibly beautiful thought Meagan. So obvious really, and who knows, though you say it will probably never, never happen, from what we have seen and the total abundance of love and light, there will be folk out there who would step up. Not sure how many of those folk would read your Blog – perhaps a letter to the press would plant the seed even wider.

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