Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Knysna

The Difference

A child is dead and her mother is badly burned, fighting for her life in hospital here in Cape Town. An appeal by the woman’s husband’s employer has been on Facebook. This husband is a good man, from Malawi, who ended up in Knysna to make a life. This man has lost his baby daughter and may lose his wife too. An unbearable loss. I know that people will open their hearts to help this man.

This man’s daughter died because his wife and child tried to outrun the fire. They were on foot. They couldn’t. There was no way. Now I know people who have lost everything they own, but they were able to escape by throwing their children and animals into their cars and outdriving the fire. In fact, there are photos of cars burned to their frames, on the side of the road, or in garages that no longer exist, ¬†and I think it is because there were not enough drivers for all the cars. This is the difference between black and white here, in case anyone was worried that I was making it about race. This is about race. Everything is about race.

The banks are jumping in, and helping in Knysna. Of course they are. They own the houses. Those are their mortgages and bonds. ABSA and FNB did not help in Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay. Those shacks were of no interest to them. This is about race. Everything is about race.

The difference is not who lost, but how. And how they will be helped to rebuild and fix. The difference is in driving not running. The difference is in where the banks will help.

I still stand by my post of yesterday. This could be the fire that rewrites Knysna, and South Africa, in how people choose to respond to it, but I think it will take more than just me asking for it. This is about race. Everything is about race.

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.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén