Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What democracy?

I didn’t need to look up academic readings on democracy to see that it is not happening in South Africa. If it means equality to all anyway. Driving with Edith, a Hospice care worker, through some of Grahamstown’s poorer areas, it was not the tin shacks and the lack of infrastructure, hygiene, and basic dignifying needs that I noticed. It was deeper than that. We were driving to visit someone who had his leg amputated because it was infected with cancer, someone who is diminishing in form due to HIV/Aids, and someone who lost her house to the tornado, has 3 HIV positive children, and is living in what could loosely be described as a box.

So talking human rights week and democracy....something is very very wrong here. Now the focus isn’t on what is wrong but how to make it better. And the huge realisation, if I hadn’t had it a million times before, was that the people doing the change-making, the dignity-giving, giving hope, smiles and food parcels to these people, is the people of Hospice. With the ‘normal’ office structured when you approach in Milner Street, you wouldn’t know what these people get up to when they leave.

All it takes is someone to care for someone else, and that’s really the reality of life. Getting back to democracy for a second, I would like to say that it is very materially and emotionally apparent that such a thing is in no existence here, and in many other parts of South Africa that I have seen. But the focus is that Hospice is delivering in more ways than the state can ever promise to from any pedestal. On top of that, they are not asking reward, they continue to go about their humble, daily work. That’s it.

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