the muiz

Thursday, 28 July 2011

domestic workers

"To be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others" - Nelson Mandela.

Domestic workers are such an assumed part of life in South Africa, that my refusal to have one seems strange and even selfish to some people. After all, how else will the millions of uneducated, even illiterate, especially among the older generation of black women in this country, find employment? Being a domestic worker, or ‘maid’ as old school South Africans still call them, is a good job, highly desired…so they say.

But I have never felt comfortable with the idea. Firstly, I don’t see this as meaningful, rewarding or empowering employment – which is what we need more of in this country (and the world in general). But even putting aside this idealistic objection, the fact is that while people still have black women cleaning their houses, nothing has changed in this country. The domestic, social and economic spaces remain, as under apartheid, framed by unequal power structures, or what peace studies thinking would refer to as ‘structural violence’.

In other words, a more insidious form of violence, which is not limited to physical harm, but limits access to resources and opportunities to certain groups only – resulting in the poverty, disempowerment and oppression of minority groups, or women, or people of other religions or races. Sounds a lot like apartheid, you might think, and isn’t that over now? Well, no. A lot has changed in this beautiful but troubled country – but equal opportunities, equal access and a ‘level playing field’ as such, are probably still decades away.

So I feel that hiring someone to clean my house would automatically put me on the wrong team, on the exploitative side of the dividing line that unfortunately still exists between those of us who grew up with all the privileges – like good education, and a choice of careers - and those for whom there is simply no other choice than to accept a really crappy wage to clean houses… that is, if they want to put food on the table (usually for multiple extended family members they are supporting, as unemployment is so high).

Many stories could be written about the courageous perseverance of African women in supporting their families, usually without any support from the fathers of their children… Many fatherless generations have resulted from our political history, and the social breakdown that is now the key feature of life from the poverty-stricken informal settlements to the ‘emerging middle classes’ of the big city suburbs.

These all deserve a mention, although they are separate subjects deserving whole essays of their own (maybe later): the beautiful strength in black South African women, and how much they are capable of, how they keep going (with such beautiful smiles) despite being abused, taken for granted and still remaining mostly sidelined in the ‘new’ South Africa; the broken hearts that are at the core of our country’s many issues – because families and the very social fabric have been torn apart – as Mother Theresa said, ‘in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world’; and the damaged masculinity of the black South African male – which continues to hamper gender relations in this country, fuels the massive crime rate, and spawns the likes of Malema and other muppets, who appeal to the disempowered masses with their extreme rhetoric.

So that’s the background, the context within which this continued exploitation of black South African women is taking place. It should receive more attention – from social justice and gender activists, especially. The government, in its turn, should be discussing solutions and alternatives- finding creative ways to generate employment and investing in mature age education and skills training (for all)… Instead, the focus is on men, strutting around making grandiose statements about nationalising mines and farmland and so on…none of which would be beneficial to this country or its people (only to those in power).

On a more simple, pragmatic level, I also believe strongly in everyone cleaning their own toilets, making their own beds, washing their own dirty laundry- what makes any one person too ‘special’ or ‘important’ to do this? The only way to remain humble and ‘real’ is to ensure you never think you have ‘arrived’ and now ‘need’ someone else to do all your menial chores for you. This same attitude is evidenced in offices, when ‘important’ people, who have PAs, make them do everything for them- buy their muffins, make their tea…grow up, man- you should be doing these things yourself, still, no matter who you are. In this country they even employ people in the office for the sole purpose of making tea for everyone and washing the cups… What? When did people suddenly become too important to do that for themselves? This is colonialism, still, here, today – people are living and behaving like colonialists.

Anyway what about the example you then set for your children, who will grow up lazy, irresponsible and spoilt. I well remember encountering the products of these households on my travels in London- where young boys in their twenties had never had to clean up after themselves, and assumed others in the house would simply continue to fill the space in their lives where their mothers and maids had been. These are the same boys who later marry in order to have someone to cook and clean for them. No man, this is the twenty-first century – Mothers, stop raising your sons to be useless and to view women as ‘domestic workers’!

In answer to all those who ask ‘but what would the older, uneducated black women do if everyone stopped employing domestic workers', I have one simple response: it’s not just the older black women who are faced with no other choices, still today – I have met young girls in their twenties in this position, many with tertiary level education, but unable to find other work (due to lack of positions, or continuing discrimination?) - this surely proves we are still doing something wrong in this country!  

The more complex response would involve coming up with long-term alternatives and lobbying for them, or creating them ourselves along the way (those of us who are more privileged and well-resourced, as well as those in local communities whose social-entrepreneurial skills, compassion for their community, and ‘oomph’ make up for a lack of resources initially). While these changes are growing organically, and being lobbied and fought for, however, the least people could do is treat their domestic workers with massive doses of respect and compassion – becoming involved in their lives in much the way the modern day corporation is expected to meet its workers demands for a greater ‘work-life balance’ and run programs to cover their ‘corporate social responsibility’.

What would this look like at the level of an ordinary home and family?

Well, start with a liveable wage – what do taxis cost to and from your home, what does food cost, what do her children’s school fees, books or uniforms cost? Have you ever asked, or bothered to calculate how on earth she could be surviving on what is today considered such a generous improvement on the scandalous wages of earlier days?

What about sick pay and other benefits you take for granted in your place of employment? Why shouldn’t domestic workers be granted these very human needs as well? Do you actually think your work, is more ‘important’ than theirs? Stop and think how much you rely on these ladies- especially if they look after your children as well… Nothing is more important than that!

Now, are you starting to see this salary and the level of benefits and understanding regarding unforeseen life events (sickness, death in the family etc.) she receives from you in a slightly different light?

How about asking her about her children – how do they get to school or crèche each day, who picks them up, who looks after them until she gets home much later, who does their homework with them? Before we moved, we used to encounter a lady and her small child on our way to work each day, trying in vain to flag down the full taxis between Llandudno (where she worked) and Hout Bay (where her adorable little girl went to crèche). It’s a good 45 minute walk each way, if taxis aren’t stopping – so we stopped and gave her a lift the few times we saw her. Now where were her employers in all this? Why couldn’t the child be given a lift in one of their expensive cars, or even allowed to remain with her mother for parts of the day, or a few times a week? Did they even know or care that she had to struggle like this each day? Did they complain and threaten to ‘dock’ her pay if she was late after managing this saga each morning?

This lady and her child still haunt me. She represents many women, many children, many unnecessarily difficult and frustrating situations… so much disempowerment… and so much heartless disrespect.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

uncomfortable questions...

He was running next to our car as if his life depended on it – and maybe it did! I felt a whirlpool of emotions, ranging from sadness and pity to fear and anger: fearful that he would be hurt or run over by our car, or another; angry that my husband didn’t just stop (he couldn’t - we were crossing a busy city intersection!); sad that his situation (and that of many in this country) could be so desperate that he would do this just to sell one magazine!

It was Saturday, and we were on our way to a movie. We had stopped at a traffic light, and started to call over one of the ‘Big Issue’ magazine vendors that are always there, when the lights changed, and we had to move on. The man eagerly ran over to catch us before we passed, but just then I realised we only had a R50 – the magazine costs R18 (of which half goes to the vendor) and we often just give a R20 as there is very little time to scramble for change…but R50?

While I continued to scrounge through the wallet for something else, he kept saying eagerly, “take it, take it, R10” – but I didn’t have that either. And I didn’t have a chance to explain this to him, or my husband, when suddenly we were crossing the intersection, with the man running alongside my open window, the magazine being offered partly through the window between us, and my head and heart in absolute turmoil.

The ‘Big Issue’ makes a point of asking people not to give the magazine vendors extra money, as this is meant to be a legitimate transaction, not ‘begging’ – which is so demeaning, destroys a person’s self-image and does nothing to encourage a strong work ethic. They are doing amazing work with homeless and unemployed people, from providing them with a legitimate way to earn a bit of money, to long-term skills training, help with drug addictions and counselling. I didn’t want to invalidate the whole process by just handing him the R50.

What seems like a generous act on the surface can also often be just the quick and easy way to assuage one’s feelings of guilt and helplessness in the face of such seemingly unsolvable problems as mass poverty. Such acts of ‘charity’ usually feel immensely patronising to me, placing an instant barrier between me and the other person. These unequal power relations are not only disempowering to the recipient in the long-term, but prevent real interactions between people from vastly different socio-economic backgrounds, and thus perpetuate the ‘status quo’ and the ‘us and them’ mentality which keeps us distanced from each other's lives and problems.

But my heart was not happy with this ‘justification’ for not giving. I don’t see giving R50 away as such a hugely generous act anyway – I mean what is R50 to us really – less than the cost of a movie ticket nowadays, or a bit more than two coffees. To this man it could mean not going to sleep hungry, and not having to face another day at the traffic lights tomorrow on an empty stomach.

All of these conflicting thoughts raging inside me, and the sound and blur of traffic just outside my window had an immobilising effect on me. I froze, wallet in hands – unable to stop the man running next to us, unable to buy the magazine, and expecting some tragic accident any second.

A moment later, my husband had stepped on the accelerator to clear the intersection, and the man dropped back, unable to keep up. Inside the car for the next few minutes, we argued over the safety of various stopping places - in the middle of the intersection had of course been out of the question, but what about there (crossing various lanes of traffic to make a sudden stop in the far left, still a traffic lane)?…or there (just before a traffic circle)?… but there was nowhere, and we were soon too far along anyway. But we were both so upset by this time that we had to turn back – it wasn’t even a decision really - we could not enjoy our evening until we had given that story a different ending.

So we eventually found a place to turn, and headed back through the traffic circle and intersection, then turned around again so that we would be on the same side of the road – all quite frantic in the Saturday traffic…all the while scanning the many people hanging about at the intersections selling one thing or another, to find the man again. And then there he was - we waved and called, and suddenly he was next to our window again, breathless and smiling widely. He had a really strikingly handsome face, and his smile lit up his whole being, so that he practically shone as he stood there, thanking us profusely, and explaining his joy that his 13 day old baby would have milk tonight!

I couldn’t even answer him with more than a smile – I was speechless: uncomfortable at being cast yet again into the inflated role of some sort of ‘saviour’; overwhelmed with relief that we had turned back; and yet immeasurably sad that so many people are struggling to meet such basic needs, right here on our doorsteps. Meanwhile our cupboards and fridges overflow, and a ‘lean’ month for us would mean not going out to expensive dinners, or not buying another pair of jeans. But what do we do about it?

I tried to process the mixture of emotions I was still experiencing - the whole encounter had rattled me. Especially since we were on our way to watch a movie at the Waterfront - a shiny, sprawling monument to hyper-consumerism and tourism – boutique shops selling overseas ‘must haves’, or equally overpriced African crafts and curios (to the mostly German tourists who flock to Africa each year, only to surround themselves with everything luxurious and European?). The many pricey haute cuisine Restaurants are safely ensconced in an ‘urban regeneration’ area of sterile security apartment blocks and of course, the picturesque harbour and iconic Table Mountain.

It’s a world away from the grimy sleepiness of the city centre, or the crowded desperation and squalor of the townships the majority of Capetonians live in…the significant, but powerless majority, who are all but forgotten when your actual social space is still so privileged, sheltered and mostly white - even 17 years after ‘full democracy’ arrived in this country.

So as ordinary as this encounter may seem to most South Africans, this man running beside our car, and his beaming face when we came back, his eyes that were just overflowing with joy and relief…caused my heart to burst wide open.

I am still now trying to have a good look inside to see what I can draw out, while it is still wide open like this. After all, this has happened before, in other ways, for other reasons, but all too soon our hearts tend to close up again, if only to enable us to live our daily lives without a constantly bleeding heart, which can be completely debilitating. We can’t stay in this place of intense feeling for too long – not only because most of us are so horribly uncomfortable there, but also because solving the world’s (or our own) problems requires doing something about it, not just sitting in a heap feeling sad about it. But no doubt if our actions were birthed from a place of deep feeling, earnest contemplation and soul searching beforehand, they would be more helpful. So I feel that spending a bit of time in this place is a worthwhile exercise.

Of course it wasn’t the first time I had an encounter that made me think about all of this – I have had many, and after living overseas for over ten years, returning to this country has been fraught with a confusing mix of emotions. Sadness, compassion and ‘charity’ are sometimes displaced by irritation or anger when you get so tired of being harassed by the hordes selling crap at every traffic light, and simply walking down the street with a white face makes you the target of every high-as-a-kite beggar (they never ask any black people for money - I haven’t had a stable job or money most of the time since moving here two years ago - ask some of those guyz in their BBBBBBBEE suits and Mercedes, man…).

But I have always been a far too sensitive soul – since childhood I have questioned the way things are in this country - I remember at about age 6 being told “that’s just way the world is”, and saying to myself “well when I am big I will change the world!!” Of course I also had no understanding of the depth and complexity of the issues, or the amount of money, effort and co-operation needed to resolve them entirely. In my naivety, I also dreamed of one day having a house big enough for all the unwanted children and elderly in the world…on a farm that could accommodate all the unwanted animals in the world! As my father pointed out, that would be some house/ farm – and where will you get all this money and space, and who will look after them all? And so I grew up, realised there were ‘practicalities’ and it wouldn’t be that easy…

Still, I chose to study politics and peace studies with the express purpose of ‘changing the world’ – I must have believed this was possible at the time. Now, when I feel challenged, almost daily, to respond meaningfully to a broken and bleeding world, even one person at a time… I often feel quite inadequate, and helpless to do so. I am not talking about just giving away a few unwanted clothes or blankets, either – I mean contributing to real and lasting change in a person’s life – or even a whole community, the whole nation. How to do this is always where I fall down…and often stay there, feeling miserable and completely useless.

I think many people feel this way when confronted by the scale of the issues we face nationally (poverty, homelessness, HIV, lack of good healthcare or education) and globally (wars, human trafficking, climate change). Where do we begin? What do we do? How do we do it, and with whom? Of course the issues are complex, but what holds me back from doing more is usually the complexity of racial relations in this country – for example, I feel that a ‘whitey’ going into the townships and trying to tell people what to do is immensely patronising or arrogant, and that what they really need is their own role models, rising up from within their own communities, who have had similar experiences, who can speak their language and encourage them.

But these are the questions I suddenly found myself faced with:

Would returning to Australia (because I miss my friends and the wonderful life I had there, miss my funky little bubble called ‘Bondi beach’, with all its amazing Restaurants and great coffee, miss the particular culture and sense of humour, and the many great local musicians that inspired me….) mean turning my back on people like this, turning my back on the chance to really contribute to this country, and to ‘changing the world’?

But where, when and how can I help or contribute - how can I make a real and lasting difference? I have been here almost two years now, and aside from some short-term research work, there have not been many opportunities to become involved. I have not been able to see a clear path to follow to becoming a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. It has been immensely disappointing to witness the modus operandi of  consultants, who I now see as ‘tender vultures’ - feeding off the carcass of a decaying (corrupt and incompetent) system and profiting massively - joining the government in squandering our tax money, which could have been better allocated to improving the lives of those in need.

If only I could figure all of this out, figure out what core issues need to be addressed, and how, to turn all of this around! If only I could contribute towards systemic and cultural change - rather than ‘band aid’ solutions which are not lasting or sustainable, relieving the symptoms without addressing the root causes. If only there was a group of people I could join in eradicating poverty – by ensuring it is no longer the logical product of our structurally unjust systems and culture… then I feel my time here would really be worth it – even worth ‘sacrificing’ friends, my preferred ‘lifestyle’, and the place I considered to be ‘home’…

The above thoughts have often been a part of my musings on life, meaning, personal contribution and social change…but then, like a slap in the face, came the key question:

Do you think sacrificing your ‘life’ (friends, ‘home’, interests, desires and pursuits) is not worth doing for the impact you could have in the life of just one human being? i.e. would you only consider making this ‘sacrifice’ if you were guaranteed that your actions would have a huge and lasting impact - on many people? Is the possibility of turning around the life of even just one person not enough for you to try, to stick around? If not, then aren’t you really saying that your ‘life’ is worth more than theirs? Do you really think you are more important than another human being – that ‘sacrificing’ your own comfort is only worthwhile in exchange for, let’s say, a few thousand or even a few million people?

This was the question that brought so much new revelation to me…and if you ask yourself these same questions as you read this, you might be unpleasantly surprised at the answers you find lurking in your own heart. It really is scary to realise how inflated our sense of self-importance really is deep inside there, when we are being totally honest with ourselves…

Of course there is nothing wrong with being an idealist – and wanting to see all of Cape Town (and South Africa, Africa, the world…) fed, housed, healthy, educated, employed in fulfilling jobs, living in wonderful communities, and coming to know the love of God as I have. This is far from a selfish picture…but if everyone was waiting for the guarantee of effectiveness before putting their hand to the plough, nothing would get done, we would never get anywhere! And many, many people would continue to struggle without a helping hand…

This realisation I am grappling with is not even starfish theory (the story about saving one starfish at a time, even though the beach is so full of them you can’t get to them all before it’s too late) – it’s lamb theory. The humble, selfless ‘lamb’ who came to save all of humanity, and sacrificed himself completely and utterly – with no guarantees that anyone would take up the offer of grace… He would have done this just to save one person! Since he held nothing back, as a Christian following in His footsteps, neither can I. He loved and gave unconditionally, and so must I. He pursued people, not comfort, and this is the challenge ever before me.

This is where the ‘rubber hits the road’ – am I a Christian, or just another person pursuing my own dreams and desires for my life? Christians, in the decades and centuries that followed Christ’s crucifixion, have sacrificed their lives – many literally – to share unconditional love with people all over the world. They stood up for the oppressed, fed the starving, housed the homeless, campaigned to abolish slavery, assisted alcoholics, opened orphanages, and in many other ways softened the heartless edges of Industrial society. The early Moravian church even sold themselves into slavery in order to reach out to slaves, and share their struggles (literally) in love and compassion.

So I realised a long time ago that if I could be even a faceless, nameless one of these brave and compassionate people in my time on this planet, then my life will have been worthwhile – visit a prisoner, help a township child with their homework, baby-sit for a single mother, give a ‘domestic worker’ a lift to crèche to drop off her child, rescue a few stray animals, volunteer at an old age home….even adopt an unwanted child one day? The possibilities are endless…and exciting!

But as for that question – would I give up my own pursuits, my own comforts, my own sense of ‘place’ and belonging…to reach out to even just one other person, who hasn’t had a fraction of the blessings I take for granted, and probably has no feeling of ‘belonging’ either… hmm, I won’t pretend that I have fully answered that one yet. My heart and my faith are still works in progress…but for now I will stay - taking one step at a time, and looking expectantly upwards (to hear/ learn from God), outwards (to connect with others), and forwards (not backwards, to places and people I have left, for now), to see what unfolds…

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

burning the book

ID books - Fascist relics of the apartheid era: ever stopped to wonder why we still tolerate them?

Without a “green bar-coded ID book” in South Africa today, you can’t open a bank account, have a “cell” phone account, or any other sort of account, you can’t sign a rental agreement or buy a car, you can’t even register to VOTE (as I recently discovered)!! This infuriates me, makes me feel like a dodgy illegal immigrant in the country of my birth, and has often resulted in me saying “I just can’t wait to move back to Australia”.

Now hang on a minute, you might say- isn’t it essential to avoid voter fraud by identifying people when they register to vote – ensuring they are actually South African citizens? Well, I would answer that a passport should be good enough – and South African passports still have the fascist tracking (ID) number in it anyway, along with a photo – it’s valid for official identification all around the world. I should not have been disqualified from voting, as a born and bred South African, simply because I do not have an ID book.

In fact, living in Australia and the UK for many years, this was my only form of identification. I opened bank accounts and carried on as a productive, responsible resident of these countries without any need for a meta-tracking number of this sort.  On my return to South Africa two years ago, I did not apply for an ID book – I didn’t think it necessary as I had lived so happily without one for ten years, and anyway I wasn’t sure how long I might want to stay – finding jobs and making friends after a long absence is not easy, especially in ‘cliquey’ Cape Town.

As it turns out, here I still am, and every time I want to update my address with the bank, or request the services of DSTV, or most importantly, register to VOTE, I am confronted with this annoying, droned mantra: “we need your green bar-coded ID before we can do that”. I explain and show my passport, but it seems that there is simply nowhere in their brainwashed heads to fit this, an equivalent option…

So the other day, the bank would again not accept my passport as sufficient proof of my existence - to gain a second card on an account already held with them, and my account with them was opened using my passport! But this time, I was informed I could obtain an ‘affidavit’ at the police station, explaining why I only have a passport as ID. After storming out of the bank in a huff, I decided perhaps I should at least try this. At the police station, I was given a blank piece of paper and told I could write whatever I want. When I was finished, they signed and stamped it into an ‘officially approved’ document, without even reading it. They didn’t look at my passport either, although I offered it!

I walked out in a daze…who knew it was this easy to have anything you like ‘approved’ or ‘verified’ on a bit of paper? And should I see this as a wonderful convenience, or “a bit of a worry” (as Aussies might say)? I am clearly an incurably logical person, and this must be beaten out of me if I am to continue living in Africa: or how can this possibly make more sense and be more acceptable as proof of ID than my passport – which was referred to scornfully as a “temporary document” by the bank supervisor?

Now, you might be thinking I could have avoided this constant hassle, given in some time ago, and marched off to stand in the long queues at home affairs, or whatever it might be called these days…but I am a stubborn wench. Deeper than all this protest about common sense and logic, or efficiency and convenience, lies a very good reason for my continuing refusal to get an ID book. I have a deep-seated disdain for this whole ID document business, and passionately believe it is an offense to our human dignity, and flies in the face of our hard-fought-for human rights and freedoms.

The public holiday we are about to celebrate is “Youth Day” – I mean, people died to stand up for freedom in this country! How could everyone have already forgotten about the burning of the pass books in many of these protests - as symbols and tools of oppression and discrimination in this country?

Yet whenever I try to explain this to people, they seem to think it is a joke, or ill-informed hyperbole – actually, most people have no idea what I am referring to at all. Of course today’s system is not at all like the system South Africa used at the time – to differentiate between races in order to dictate where they lived, worked and traveled…or is it? Our ID numbers still contain information about our racial status, amongst other things...

And while I am on this topic - when you apply for a job in this country, you still have to specify which racial group you are a part of – ostensibly for BBBEE/ affirmative action reasons. But is this really the South Africa people died to see birthed? Is everyone okay with this? A country where divisions, labeling and discrimination continue to define our interactions in official or public spheres?

When I lived in the UK there was an outcry at the time about bringing in a form of national identity document. I remember thinking that it wasn’t worth all the fuss – if you have nothing to hide, why would you fear this? But I realise now it’s not about that, it’s about the simple and core freedom to just ‘be’ – it’s as fundamental as that. It’s not about what information they have, or even about what they could do with it anymore, but about my freedom to choose not to be ‘tracked’ on multiple databases, even if I have nothing to hide (most of us certainly have less to hide than these corrupt politicians or the bureaucrats that administer their systems)!

My anger is futile, I know - we already have numerous numbers tracking us through life – including account numbers, drivers’ licenses, student numbers, employee numbers, health or car insurance numbers…and yes, passport numbers. This amounts to our country, and most of the world, being run like a ‘police state’ – their prying fingers touching on, and tracking, every aspect of our lives. My ‘file’ probably looks something like this: “lyn x, white, female, 35, married, dual nationality, postgrad education, currently unemployed, earned us Rx in taxes last year”. If I believed they were interested or efficient enough, they could include such cctv observations as “storms out of banks…”; and even track my facebook, gmail, blogger and twitter accounts too, adding “prone to ranting and railing about politics”. But I doubt they have the time or funding for this, yet…

If all of this fills me, a privileged ‘whitey’ with indignation, then where are the public displays of outrage by those who where there – in those protests, burning pass books, seeing their family and friends ripped apart by bullets (after experiencing traumatic family breakdown: fathers forced to leave families and work on the mines, children in the ‘homelands’ or raised by their grandparents, while their mothers became domestic workers and raised white brats like me)? And is it not perfectly reasonable to expect that our governments spend less money on all this inane bureaucracy (which extends far beyond the ID book of course), more on doing something to improve the lives of the long-neglected masses of this country – rather than merely officially numbering them, and making them wait in ever-lengthening queues?

I think I should go back to that police station – I have a few more things I would like signed and stamped with ‘official approval’ on an ‘affidavit’, starting with:

“I, lyn x (see your own security files for further details), hereby declare my refusal to obtain a ‘green bar-coded ID book’ for the duration of my stay in South Africa - although, and especially because it is the much-beloved country of my birth. And don’t tell me I can’t vote – I tell you I don’t want to anyway: you are all a bunch of Muppets! You have shown yourselves to be untrustworthy and incapable of delivering on our dreams for the New South Africa. I hereby revoke all claims that this political system represents me, but reserve the right to continue to voice my comments and complaints freely and publicly if I so wish (without registering first with a ‘green bar-coded ID book’). Moreover, far from ‘opting out’ of the future of this country, I shall still find ways to contribute, and be politically active – without said ‘green bar-coded ID book’! In fact, if I finally decide to apply for one now, it will only be to burn it in front of parliament, while singing ‘passop Zuma, passop!”