I've just had an email to say that my comments about the townships in Cape Town were misinformed and offensive. I welcome all feedback to my blog and respect everyone's opinions.
The point I was trying to make was a cultural one - but perhaps, reading back what I've written, it wasn't coming across quite right. I don't dispute at all that there are some people in Africa who live in the most horrendous poverty, or that they need and deserve outside help.
What I was trying to say is that many of the people in the townships in Cape Town (specifically) have jobs and still choose to stay there - amongst people who share their culture, views and life experiences. Given the opportunity to move to so called "better areas" populated mainly by white people they often say no - because in their mind it's not "better". Why move amongst strangers and pay taxes for the privilege?
It might be hard for us to understand that some people really don't care about having a lovely house and lots of 'things', because in our culture that is something we're taught to value and the thing that most of us spend our lives trying to achieve (you only have to look at the credit crunch to understand our obsession for wanting more) . From what I understand - and of course this is just my opinion based on what I've seen and heard - many of the people from the Black and Coloured townships (and I use that word because that is what the people call themselves) choose their society, friends and culture over a nice house, taxes and legal Sky!
So perhaps it's actually us who are missing a trick - as we sit, isolated in our lovely houses, in our "nice" areas, paying taxes and Sky bills, hardly talking to our neighbours. Perhaps if we had a bigger sense of culture and community we'd need fewer of the trappings and trimmings.
What I wanted to get across was that I felt that my feeling guilty about what I have in comparison to what these people have is pointless because perhaps we actually want different things.
Thank you to my anonymous critic for forcing me to examine and clarify my views further - perhaps you will still think I'm wrong, and perhaps when I return to South Africa I'll think I was wrong this time too. I honestly do apologise if my thoughts caused offense and I hope you accept my apologies. If you ever read this - do let me know your thoughts.
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