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Why I am Focusing my Energy on My Community, Cape Town

I haven’t written a super personal blog in awhile. This week for some reason I think I want to. I have so many thoughts I want to write about, I’m not really sure where to start. Maybe I can start here, at the time of writing this it is a monday evening, it’s cold and raining. I got absolutely drenched walking to work this morning. 

Why did I not just Uber you ask? Well, quite simply, last time I tried to Uber they wanted to charge me R90 to travel 1km. I live a kilometre away from my office. No way am I paying R90 to travel that distance. So I got drenched. 

I might also be sick at the moment. It’s really strange, like clockwork I get sick every August. My birthday month, how dare my body even? 

Anyway with sickness and rainy mondays, I think anxiety and sadness can be a friend to them. I’ll be honest, I was not a joyful person on Monday. I mean you might know this by now but I get sad. While I was walking home I was looking over the city of Cape Town and talking to God, asking him to show me the goodness that does exist in the City. While I was praying that, I had a thought and that thought was this; we are in a global depression. Economically and socio-politically. Let’s be honest, the world does not seem that great right now. Or does it to you? Because if it does please show me how it does. 

The truth is for me, the only place I see the goodness of the world is in the community of the people I surround myself with. However when I try to look at what is happening on a global scale. Things are not good. I think with globalisation came something that we were not quite prepared for. That is the bombarbment of all of the worlds bad news. ALL OF IT. Sudan, America, Britain, Israel & Palestine, South Africa’s worsening economy, Zimbabwe’s struggles to regain financial capabilities, or just another genocide here or there and on and on. Now if you’re reading all of that, what can you do about it? Probably nothing more than tweet about it. Does that really make one feel better? It does not do that for me. 

I can’t fight every fight

I heard a short speech by good old D. Trump blaming the internet as a key factor in influencing racism and bigotry. It was confusing to say the least, firstly I don’t believe him in saying he wants to fight bigotry. Secondly, I think he missed the point. I think that the internet is just showing us that we as a species are evil by nature. Who we already were has been revealed and it hurts, it hurts a lot. 

I can’t do anything about what happened in Chicago this weekend. I can’t help the Israel and Palestine situation. I can’t do anything for Zimbabwe. Right now, I can’t even help South Africa’s dying economy. So what can I actually do? 

I’m not sure about you but I know that I can’t fight every fight without becoming extremely anxious or depressed. I just can’t manage it, I don’t have the stomach. I’m also not going to tweet about every injustice, to earn brownie points with my fellow woke friends (love you guys). I am choosing to pick my battles because I think that is the only way to survive emotionally in 2019.

What battles do I pick then? It’s actually quite simple. Pick the battles you can fight. I am a straight white male, what is something that I see wrong in the world that just by my personhood I can help? Well, racism and sexism. 

I am not wealthy so I can’t solve poverty. I have to make sure I can eat before I am able to be really generous to those less fortunate than me. However, I can very easily fight racism. By, firstly noticing racism in my own heart and destroying that. Then actually listening to people of colour when they talk about their struggles and seeing others as human beings. 

To fight sexism, I can look at toxic male characteristics within myself. Destroy those, then encourage my male friends to do the same and work with them to destroy those characteristics in each other. Also by listening to women and their struggles. 

Okay so those battles are everywhere in the world. Then one can look at where they are based. I live in Cape Town, South Africa. Now why would I then want to go fight a battle in America or Israel, when we have more than enough people who need help in Cape Town? Not sure if you heard about the crisis in the Cape Flats. I can’t really do much there but there are other people that need help in my area. Why do I not start by helping them in real life rather than tweeting about Chicago? I am not lessening that tragedy, however, Americans can solve that with Gun control. I am not going to win that fight. I live in South Africa so I am going to work on South African problems. 

My generation is obsessed with travelling and living in a different country, I think it comes with globalisation. I think at the same time we are also obsessesed with global news. Global news is depressing though. As is local news. What is the difference though? We might actually be able to do something about local news. 

Growing up I used to have elusions of grandeur thinking that one day I would change the world with the woman I married. To be honest, I don’t care about changing the world anymore. That’s way too much pressure for a person as flawed as me. What I do want to do though is to impact my community. 

I am far more interested in how we can make Cape Town a more inclusive space for people of colour than Boris Johnson getting stuck on zip wire. Most of my friends of colour as well as female friends have told me how much they experience extreme prejudice in Cape Town, which is something that isn’t always in the news. I think it is important to also take testimony of our friends as seriously as we take the news. The events in their life are a microcosm for the world we live in. We’re so focused on the macro that we forget to help the person next to us crying for help and there are people next to us crying for help. My friends telling me about racism they experience is something that I can do something about that, by telling you about it and fighting it in myself. Boris I can’t do anything for. 

Decolonisation and Community

I’m going to be fully honest with you. I have somewhat given up on the Western world. They do not have a model of life I have any interest in emulating. While South Africa and Africa have their flaws, I don’t think the solutions to those flaws lies in some Western ideal. I do know where the solution lies and it comes from the Middle East a good few years ago but if you want to hear about that we can talk about it privately. 

I have decided to study my Masters next year and a lot of people have asked me whether I want to go overseas to do so. Almost as if I have to. My answer is always no. I have never been able to explain why, I have just said because I don’t want to. I do not think I have been able to communicate that till this very blog. 

Here is why I don’t want to. Decolonisation and community. The underlying idea behind the need to study overseas is that the Universities are better than we have in Africa. They are ranked higher yes, but based on what and developed by whom? A Western system of amount of papers published and the quality of those papers as reviewed by academic peers. Think about that for a second. Essentially it is set up so that Western academics can control the considered quality of what is published through the peer-reviewed system. I am not saying it is wrong, what I am trying to say is that there is a possibility that Western universities may not be as good as African universities. They are just in economies that allow for more people to be able to publish as well as control what is considered quality or not. An African university cannot at present compete with that in terms of ranking just because of how our economy works and that academia is for the most part a privileged profession to pursue. And thus, I will rather give my academic contribution to a South African university. 

Why did I go on a tangent about studying my masters and deciding where to do it? Well here is why. Like my academic contribution, right now I feel my ethical, spiritual, emotional and physical contribution needs to be to my community. That community is Cape Town, South Africa.