Challenging the divide
R25 goes to the seller
WIN a Book
we can do
to create the
kind of world
we all want
to live in.
Samples of the kind of content you’ll find in South African Conversations
From South Africans to South Africans. A thought-provoking read about the stuff
no-one talks about ... along with practical solutions towards a better South Africa.
4 Our rainbow nation
8 Does this child have a choice?
12 Because my mouth is wide with laughter ...
13 Maids & Madams: Know your rights ...
14 How to make a living when there are no jobs
25 Here’s how you can help unemployed people in
26 Let’s talk about the foreigners in our country
28 A migrant’s tale
30 How can South Africans help the foreigners
in our midst?
32 The cultural context of greetings
34 How about learning my language?
36 The rubbish bin scavengers
38 Recycle for change
40 The status of the least among us ...
42 Some things you need to know
43 Free food: beetroot leaves
None of us are the stereotypes described here, yet most of us will recognise a bit of ourselves somewhere on these pages.
They are mostly Black, Indian and
Coloured: former freedom fighters
and returned political exiles.
They are worldly, experienced and
sophisticated – even if not formally
They are politicised and angry about
white entitlement, bigotry, racism,
condescension and lack of knowledge
about the rest of society.
They are intimately familiar with the
plight of marginalised people.
The international generation
They are the children of mostly Black
former political exiles or they grew
up, normally, in affluent areas in postapartheid
They are sassy, well educated, well-read
and often well-travelled.
They are at ease engaging outside familiar
racial and cultural boundaries and have
diverse social circles.
Many are leaving South Africa because
of frustration with crime, discrimination,
Photo: Henri Meilhac
and in pursuit of better economic
They are annoyed by white condescension
and the automatic assumption that Black
equates poverty and lack of education.
They may not understand the true depth
of the plight of marginalised people in
South Africa, because they did not
grow up in it.
They are annoyed by the
automatic assumption that
Black equates poverty and
lack of education.
Those who stayed behind,
but got educated in spite
Black professionals – the lucky few who
made up apartheid’s quota of Black people
who were allowed to get an education.
They are intimately familiar with the plight
of their own people.
Most are supporting extended,
Many are involved with volunteer work
trying to make a difference through faithbased
or community-based organisations.
They are not necessarily politicised, are
often accepting of the status quo and are
eager to fit in with White people at work or
church – not considering the loss of their
own cultural identity in this process.
In spite of their qualifications, there is a
self-imposed and historically imposed
‘glass ceiling’ beyond which
many find it difficult to move –
especially in the presence of
the government – because of its
promises – and especially White
people – because of the history
of apartheid and because White
people are perceived as being
Educated, young people
of colour who were
raised in South Africa
They are the new generation of
young people who have had
access to education and other
Many of them rose out of terrible
disadvantage to achieve their
They are intimately familiar with the
plight of their own people and most
are supporting extended families.
They are positive, hopeful and want
to help make a difference.
Even if not completely at ease, they
are eager to engage outside familiar
racial and cultural boundaries –
often at a loss of their own
They are often not treated as
professional equals by Whites
in the workplace.
They are often not
treated as professional
equals by Whites in the
They are mostly Black, skilled bluecollar
workers and artisans, new to
the South African workforce.
They often struggle to make ends
meet. A large proportion of their
salaries are for family maintenance
responsibilities. Many are
supporting extended families.
They are very familiar with limited
access to services.
They are frustrated with unfulfilled
promises made by NGOs and
They are intimately familiar with the
complex challenges faced by Black
They are willing to contribute in any
way possible to help make things
better for their people.
On the whole, they have little
decision-making power in the
world of work.
They want to move away from what
has held them back in the past …
desperately trying to hide the other
reality in their lives: the reality not
known or shared by White people.
They often spend disproportionate
amounts of money on clothes,
shoes, handbags, jewellery,
accessories and cars to keep
They sometimes have a sense
of entitlement, a culture of ‘the
world owes me.’ That world is
The millions of poor South Africans
who live lives of quiet desperation
– who have given up hope of ever
bridging the widening rift between
rich and poor, educated and
uneducated in South Africa.
They are mostly Black and coloured,
though increasing numbers of
White people are becoming
They are people of all ages in
positions of domestic responsibility
– including orphans left to fend for
themselves and their siblings.
They are unemployed or employed
in menial jobs, homeless or living in
poverty in townships, city centres,
abandoned buildings, building sites,
informal settlements and rural
They are affected by all the social
ills associated with poverty and
marginalisation, such as alcohol
and substance abuse, illiteracy,
malnutrition, prostitution and
They have little access to
information and are often unaware
of the extent of social programming
Photo: Jan Truter | flickr
initiatives and other support
services available to them.
They are unable to participate in
the formal economy for a variety of
reasons, such as lack of education,
lack of skills, transportation,
money, confidence, know-how
and, simply, lack of precedent.
Ill health, disability and old-age
may also prevent them from active
They are frustrated, sceptical and
wary because of what they perceive
as unfulfilled development promises
made by the government.
They believe that the government
doesn’t care about them.
They are illiterate, semi-literate or
literate, and mostly uneducated.
They have little disposable income
and few prospects.
Many are without hope.
People who have become wealthy
by questionable means. They are
more concerned with what they
can take from the system than
what they can give to it. There is
little regard for ethics or culture.
They behave ostentatiously and
often spend exorbitant amounts of
money on booze and bling. Making
money seems to be a game of how
best to cheat the system, not of
hard work and integrity.
Mostly White South Africans who
believe, deep down, that the ending
of apartheid was a mistake.
They used to blame the victims of
poverty for lack of incentive, lack of
willpower, laziness, stupidity and all
the stereotypes that are attached
to people who are marginalised
– until their own joined the ranks
of the poor. Now they blame the
They see no connection between
crime and the fact that economic
inequality is higher in South Africa
than anywhere else in the world.
They believe in their intrinsic
intellectual superiority and they look
down on other races. They believe
that they earned what they have
because of hard work and their
contribution to the world.
They rarely consider the enormous
benefit and advantage bestowed
upon them and their families by
the years of white affirmative action
They have access to quality
employment, health care, services,
information and opportunities.
Their jobs are protected by a circle
of their own: like-minded family,
friends and colleagues.
They live lives of privilege and
entitlement. They have stereotypical
ideas of what Black people are like
and expect Blacks who want to
associate with them to conform to
their norms of behaviour, dress,
speech and culture.
They would find it inconceivable
to visit a township, let alone an
informal settlement and believe,
on some level, that people who live
in poverty deserve what they get,
because of their inability to rise
above their circumstances.
They see no connection between
the policies of the past and Black
poverty now. They want Black
people to ‘move on’ because
apartheid is over, after all.
They see no connection between
the low and discriminatory wages
they pay the people who maintain
their lifestyle, and the difficulties
people experience in rising above
They are negatively critical of the
government and regard many of its
policies as unfair, ill-advised assaults
on their way of life.
They and their children are negative
about prospects in South Africa and
invariably believe that the situation
is hopeless. Leaving the country is
perpetually an option.
White South Africans who believe
that apartheid was an iniquity that
marred our economic development,
scarred a lot of people, divided a
nation, and left us with horrible
They are saddened by the past and
want to see our country change
They are mostly educated and
have access to quality employment,
health care, ample services and
information, and participate actively
in the formal economy.
They may be affluent or not, but
they live lives of relative privilege
because they know no other way
They mix freely with educated
people of colour who fit into their
socio-economic group. Yet, they are
mostly unaware of what life is like
for those who are truly marginalised
as a result of the racial policies of
They are critical, but positive about
prospects in South Africa.
They would like to help make a
difference – but they are unsure
about how to get involved beyond
mixing with people of colour who
fit into their world.
blue-collar South Africans
White blue-collar workers and
artisans, who took for granted the
affirmative protections afforded
them by apartheid, who now have
to compete for jobs and services
against people who were previously
excluded from meaningful
participation in the formal economy.
Many struggle to make ends meet.
A large proportion of their salaries
go towards family responsibilities.
Many, but not all, are now
supporting unemployed members
of their family.
Many are resentful of Black people
taking ‘their’ jobs.
They still have a say at their
places of work because of an
ease of interaction in a world still
dominated by unspoken white
Photo: William Krause
Kind White people who
never questioned the
White South Africans who were
born into apartheid but didn’t
necessarily consider themselves
superior – just different. They never
questioned why Black people live in
poverty on one side of town, while
White people lived in decent houses
and sent their children to school on
the other side of town. They never
made the connection between the
policies of apartheid and the way
things were. They have a hard time
redefining themselves and making
sense of the guilt that comes
with awareness of what has really
A large group of South Africans
(and foreigners) that transcends
This group is comprised of people
from all economic and racial
backgrounds … ordinary people
who believe that a better world
is possible. Many are involved
in social transformation work
… in government departments,
international and local aid
organisations and charities,
and in community and faithbased
Also in this group, are many of the
younger generation who have had
the privilege of discovering the
common humanity of people from
all races with whom they went
They don’t know about the pain and
division caused by apartheid and
they frankly don’t care. They just
want to get on with their lives and
participate in a world that works.
They don’t want to be punished
for the sins of their fathers or be
branded by their labels.
Many have had the privilege of discovering the
common humanity of people from all races.
Photo: Zachary Nelson
Written by the South
African Conversations team
… based on the true story
of a boy named Thabiso.
A baby boy is born. A mother’s heart is filled with pride,
joy, love and an overwhelming sense of responsibility
to help this child become all that he can be. She
names him Thabiso. It means ‘joy’. Somewhere in the
background is a gnawing, unacknowledged fear: will she
manage to feed this extra mouth?
Thabiso is a happy child. He lives with his mother and
grandmother in a brick room in Chiawelo, a township
in Soweto. They survive on his mother’s salary as a
domestic worker in the suburbs — emakhishini. But
there is always enough food and his grandmother is
always there. She feeds him pap and morogo, which
grows next to their house. At nighttime they often
eat meat: chicken feet or heads, cows hooves or skop
(sheep’s head). Thabiso doesn’t see much of his mother
because she leaves for work long before he gets up, and
she comes home long after he has gone to sleep. Even
so, he knows she loves him. They play on Sundays and
she makes vetkoek with sweet syrup. Thabiso is happy.
Thabiso comes in from playing outside one morning
and finds his grandmother collapsed on the floor. She
doesn’t answer him. He sits with her the whole day until
his mother comes home. A neighbour takes care of him
the next morning. His mother first has to catch a taxi to
the suburbs to ask the madam for time off to arrange
the funeral. (She dare not phone for fear of losing her
job, because it may be assumed she was just making
excuses. Too many people have relatives who are
Thabiso now goes to bed alone at night. He wakes up
alone in the morning. The neighbours keep an eye on
him. Kind of. For the first time in his life he feels lonely.
Thabiso is six years old.
One Monday not long after his
grandmother died, Thabiso’s
mother returns from work far too
early. The house where she works
was locked and the madam wasn’t
there, she explains.
She goes back every day of that
first week, thinking that perhaps
something had happened, like
a death in the family. Then she
goes back every other day. At
the end of the second week she
hears from a man on the road
that the ‘baas’ had lost his job and
that’s why the family had moved
— apparently without telling
Thabiso’s mother is officially
unemployed. She walks to town
almost every day, looking for a
job. She knows that the hour-long
walk makes her sweaty and smelly,
but she doesn’t know what else to
do: she doesn’t have money for a
taxi. Weeks and months pass and
she can’t get a job. She cries a lot.
There is no more meat, just pap
and morogo. And sometimes, just
Thabiso’s mother can no longer
pay the rent for their one-roomed
dwelling. They move into a zozo
(a corrugated iron and cardboard
shack) in the squatter camp on
the edge of the township. The
shack is freezing in winter and
like a furnace in summer. There
are always strange men around
… they come and go and make
strange noises in the shack, while
Thabiso sits outside or stays
under the bed if it is late at night.
At least there is food. Thabiso is
glad to escape to school in the
mornings. But that, too, soon
comes to an end. His mother
doesn’t seem to care about
anything any more. In fact, she
hardly seems to notice Thabiso.
She drinks a lot of beer and she
never makes vetkoek any more.
By the age of 9 Thabiso is a
confirmed smoker. Somehow,
puffing on the stubs left by the
visiting men makes him feel less
hungry. Thabiso’s main focus now
is to find something to eat every
day. It feels stranger when he has
eaten than when he hasn’t.
Then what seems like a small
miracle happens: Thabiso slips
a banana into his pocket at the
local spaza. The woman doesn’t
notice. Thabiso has discovered
how to steal. At first, it is just food.
Anything to stave off the hunger:
fruit, bread, Niknaks. And then the
realization that it doesn’t matter
what he steals: what he can’t
use he can sell and if he can sell
something, he can eat.
At around 11, Thabiso discovers
that smoking dagga takes the
edge off of hunger much better
than the cigarette stubs. I-pilisi
(Mandrax, tic or any drug) works
even better. He hasn’t seen the
inside of a school for years.
When he is about 15, one of the
men who sometimes visits his
mother gives Thabiso a gun and
tells him to hide it. He says that
he will come back for it, but he
never does. This gives Thabiso the
means to take his food-sourcing
activity to another level. He never
shoots, he just points. He revels
in being able to eat whenever he
feels hungry … and even when he
doesn’t feel hungry. He revels in
the power that is all of a sudden
Stealing cars is fun, too. And
practical, because he can quickly
get from point A to point B,
lessening the chances of being
Crime becomes a way of life.
Thabiso often breaks into houses
in rich areas. He knows that what
he’s doing is wrong but, he tells
himself, he doesn’t hurt anyone …
just re-distributes things a little.
He’s practiced shooting at trees
and things far away from home —
but he hasn’t actually needed to
use the gun. Just pointing usually
does the trick.
Then one evening a man in a big
house, which he had thought
was empty, startles Thabiso. They
see each other at the same time,
fear registering in each face. The
man reaches for a drawer, but
Thabiso’s finger is quicker.
Thabiso is shocked at the blood
and the gasps for life. He is even
more shocked when they arrest
him two days later.
Months later, Thabiso struggles
to look at his mother as the
judge sentences him to 18 years
in prison for hijacking, armed
robbery and attempted murder.
Thabiso is 18.
We will all
or pay for,
– James Baldwin
Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter
And my throat
Is deep with song,
You do not think
I suffer after
I have held my pain
Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter,
You do not hear
My inner cry?
Because my feet
Are gay with dancing,
You do not know
– Minstrel Man by Langston Hughes, Black American poet
Maids & madams
Know your rights!
... and do the right thing.
If Thabiso’s mother’s employer had registered her with the Unemployment Insurance Fund
(UIF), she would have been able to claim the following benefits after losing her job:
• Financial support equivalent to 15 days’ worth of pay • Registration as a work-seeker
with the Department of Labour • Free training and counselling • Benefits for Thabiso
• And more. And who knows, perhaps Thabiso’s life would have turned out differently.
So, please do the necessary to protect the people who work for you. You can do it all over the phone
or online. Call 012 337 1680 between 8 am to 6.30 pm on weekdays, and between 8 am to 12 noon
on Saturdays. Or write to email@example.com or go to http://www.labour.gov.za and search for
‘unemployment-insurance-fund-uif/ document’. Failure to register a domestic worker for UIF – even if she
works for only 24 hours a month – could land you a hefty fine and even jail time.
If you are a ‘madam’
First of all, recognise that you are a
just a human being – just like your
‘maid’. Be kind. Be fair.
Go to www.labour.gov.za and search
for ‘domestic workers’. You’ll find the
basic laws that govern employment,
plus a whole lot of very useful
information specific to domestic
You may not know, for instance, that
if you expect your domestic worker to
work outside her normal, contracted
hours, you must pay her 1.5 times the
normal rate on Saturdays, and double
the normal rate on Sundays.
If her work-day falls on a public
holiday, you must pay her for the day,
but she is not required to work that
day. If she does, you must pay her for
the holiday and for working. And don’t
grunt at this. What would YOU do if
your boss refuses to pay you for the
public holidays in a month?
And you cannot not pay your
domestic worker because YOU
went away on the day that she was
supposed to work.
You also cannot fire her without giving
her at least three written warnings
and discussing what behaviour you
want her to change. Even then, you
have to give her four weeks’ written
notice, or one week’s written notice
if she has worked for you for less
than six months. You must then pay
severance pay equivalent to one
week’s salary for each year that she
has worked for you.
If you are a ‘maid’
First of all, recognise that you are a
human being – just like your ‘madam’.
Be kind. Be fair. And insist on your
1. It is within your rights to ask
your employer for a contract of
employment and for proof of
registration with the Unemployment
Insurance Fund (UIF). This is your
protection in case you become
2. Learn about your rights and
obligations at www.sadsawu.com – It
is the South African Domestic Service
and Allied Workers’ Union. You can
contact SADSAWU in Johannesburg:
011 331 1001 and in Cape Town: 021
3. If you have a dispute with your
employer and need advice, contact
the Department of Labour in Pretoria
on 012 309 4000 for information
about a Labour office near you. Or
find relevant contact information at
4. If you have been unfairly
dismissed, contact the Commission
for Conciliation, Mediation &
Arbitration (CCMA) on their toll-free
number: 0861 16 16 16 or write to:
firstname.lastname@example.org There is a
lot of useful information on their site:
www.ccma.org.za The Commission
listens to both parties in a dispute
and helps them reach an amicable
and fair solution in accordance with
5. If you have been unfairly treated
and you can’t get help anywhere,
contact the Black Sash for free
paralegal support and advice on their
free helpline: 072 66 33 739 or write
to them at email@example.com
Black Sash works to empower
marginalised people to speak for
The majority of South Africans are either
out of work or severely limited in their ability
to generate a decent enough income to support
themselves and their families.
And while there are no easy answers to the crisis
facing us, it is clear that being employed is not
the only way to earn a living.
It IS possible to create an income for yourself.
The ideas on the following pages could get you
started … or could spark an idea that does.
when there are no jobs
By Teresa Schultz, Ann Juli James and Therésa Müller
Photo: Tshikululu Social Investments www.tshikululu.org.za
Courtesy of the First Rand Foundation
Hunger is not the
worst feature of
– William Barrett
So get out there and do
Find or make things to sell.
Sell them on the streets,
from your garage or back
yard, at flea markets,
at farmer’s markets,
to shop owners, to people
who work in offices, to
neighbours who need what
you have to offer, or online.
Advertise your services
on a sign in your front
yard, in the local
newspaper or in school
and church newsletters,
on supermarket, school,
church or community
bulletin boards – and tell
everyone you know!
Where there is a need, there
is money to be made.
Try different things until
you find something that
earns a predictable income
for you on a regular basis.
1. Collect and sell things
from nature. The ingredients are
free, just waiting for your creative
touch. Here are some ideas:
Make brooms from grasses and
reeds. Cut lengths of strong tall
grasses or young river reeds
into approximate equal lengths,
bunch them together and attach
them to a stick or broomstick
with wire. Trim the reeds or
grasses so that they all touch the
floor when the broom is held
upright. Make miniature ones
too, to sell as ornaments or toys.
Make musical instruments
from natural objects. Use large
seedpods or bamboo to make
fun musical instruments like
shakers, drums, flutes and
Ornaments. Use interesting
natural objects like pebbles,
shells, seedpods, dried twigs and
pieces of driftwood to create wall
hangings, ornaments or wind
Round stones. Live close to a
river or stream? Take the kids on
an outing to collect round stones.
Rinse and sell them to the local
florist, nursery or gardening
Dried grasses and weeds.
People often admire flowering
weeds and tall grasses in the
countryside, but rarely stop to
pick them. Make the effort to
stop, pick, bunch and sell them.
Collect and sell seeds. When
flowers or plants in your garden
start to die or drop seed, collect
the seeds. Put a few seeds
in envelopes and decorate
the envelopes appropriately,
naming the plant or flower and
explaining what it needs to grow.
Go fishing. Feed your family
and sell the surplus to your
neighbours, to the shop on the
corner or, on a regular basis, to a
restaurant near you.
Photo: Bundo Kim
2. Grow things and sell
them. Even if you have little
space, you can grow things
in pots and containers. If you
live in a shack, you can put the
containers on your roof. Here are
Grow succulents. They are easy
to grow from small cuttings put
straight into soil. Sell them to
your local supermarket or
Photo: Markus Spiske
Photo: Annie Spratt
Grow herbs. Just about everyone
uses herbs in their cooking. And
just about any herb grows well
indoors — just do your research
first about which herbs grow well
together. (Some will hog water,
for example, and leave the others
dried out). The safest way is to
grow different herbs in different
containers. You can sell herb
seedlings, individual herb plants
in pots, bunches of fresh herbs,
dried herbs and herbal teas from
is capitalism’s way
of getting you to
plant a garden.
– Orson Scott
Grow sprouts. Growing sprouts
is not difficult and does not take
up much time or space. They are
increasingly in demand by healthconscious
Bringing hopes & dreams to fruition
— by Heather Lynn
Tshepo Dongwane is no wastrel.
He believes in exploiting to the full every square centimetre of
the small garden at his home on the outskirts of Bloemfontein.
Tshepo is a realist. He knows that his five sons, ranging in age
from 5 to 17, have to be given a good start in life — a firm
grounding in the work ethic and a sound financial base from
which to take off into their own lives. That is why he insists that
they do their bit in the garden after school, and that is why he is
in the process of purchasing a plot of land for each of them.
When he gets home from his job as a driver, Tshepo turns
his attention to the needs of his family and his garden. Today
he plans to move a shed from one part of his plot to another
in preparation for a new poultry venture. And all the time
he is busy with the nurturing and planting out of seedlings,
preparation of vegetable beds, watering, and making sure that
his boys have performed the chores assigned to them to his
It is hard to believe that 15 square metres can produce so
much: onions, maize, spinach, cabbages, tomatoes, peas, eggs
— all sufficient to feed his family and more. The peach trees
in his garden are like children to him, bearing fruit year after
year. Bottles of golden peaches, prepared by his wife in her
‘spare time’ from her job as a sales-lady grace the shelves in her
Idleness is not part of this family’s life. Tshepo has set up
a small stall outside his gate for his children to sell fruit at
weekends. This is indicative of the industrious thinking of this
charming, forward-looking man.
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Photo: Eskinder Debebe
Grow and sell flowers. Grow
long stemmed flowers in
your garden or even in large
containers indoors in an airy and
sunny spot. Pick them early in
the morning. Tie string around
bunches of flowers and place
them in a bucket of water to sell.
If you’re clever with creating floral
arrangements, you could sell
that as an additional service to
churches, offices, etc.
Grow your own vegetables and
sell the surplus. At least your own
family will not go hungry when
you grow your own food, even if
you eat all of it yourselves.
Grow and sell seedlings – starter
plants to help others start their
Keep chickens. Sell the eggs.
3. Resell things discarded
by others. Look for useful things
that have been thrown away that
could make you some money.
Here are some ideas:
Second-hand clothes, toys,
bicycles, household utensils,
equipment, etc. Check the
classifieds of the local paper for
garage sales and church fairs.
Look for things that people will
find useful. Buy only small items
if you use public transport. Don’t
buy electrical appliances unless
you are able to fix them. Insist on
testing them first. People like to
save money and will buy secondhand
things they need, provided
that it’s in good condition.
Photo: Shanna Camilleri
Second-hand books. Visit garage
sales, church fairs, auctions and
charity shops for cheap secondhand
books. Start with just a
few and then use some of the
profit you make to buy more. You
can sometimes get the books
for a song by offering to buy
everything instead of just a few.
You may get hundreds of books
at 50 cents a piece, instead of a
few at R20 a piece. Just ask. You
never know how many years
they’ve been storing the books,
trying to sell them at the same
If life gives
you lemons, make
— Dale Carnegie
Recycle discarded paper, metal,
glass, cardboard, tin cans, plastic,
old printer cartridges and broken
or outdated electrical gadgets.
Do it yourself or mobilise and
support the small army of people
who dig into rubbish bins on
rubbish removal days in your
neighbourhood. You could also
make an arrangement with an
office park to collect all their
wasted or shredded paper.
4. Buy products to re-sell at
a profit or on commission. Here
are some ideas:
Sell South African
Conversations! Club together
with some buddies to start a
Distribution Hub for yourselves.
Or find out where the nearest
Distribution Hub is where you
can sign up as a street seller
and get magazines to go sell.
The magazines will cost you R25
per copy and you sell them for
R50 a copy. Now where else can
you get a 100% return on your
investment? The only catch is
that you have to buy a minimum
of 10 copies at a time, cash.
Buy balloons and twist them into
funny shapes. Ask permission
from management, then sell your
balloons at a mall or shopping
centre. This does sound like a lot
more work with little return than
selling a ready-made product like
South African Conversations.
Buy old wooden cupboard doors
or window frames. Go to secondhand
shops and buy old frames,
cupboard doors, window frames,
etc. Clean them up and paint
them in bright colours or use
some paint techniques to create
an old, distressed look. Sell them
as unusual picture frames to
florists, interior decorators, etc.
Buy and sell fruit and vegetables
in bulk at a fresh produce
market. Re-sell these at a price
just below what the stores
Photo: Andrew Austin
5. Make your own things
Find a book on arts and crafts at
your local library. Or start with
Mats. Hand-weave chunky mats
from strips of scrap material or
from plastic grocery bags and sell
them. Don’t worry about many
knots as the chunkiness adds to
the unique appeal.
Knit or crochet small items. Even
though you can sell larger items
like jerseys and blankets for
more money, smaller items are
quicker to knit or crochet. Start
with beanies, scarves, bed socks
and baby booties and blankets.
Photo: Charlie- Solorzano
Tinplate work. Turn old coffee
tins and bean cans into lanterns
or candlestick holders. Use a
hammer and different diameter
nails to nail a pattern into each
tin can. Let the tins rust for a
natural, rustic look.
Weave baskets and bags. Go to
your library and get a book on
how to make a basket. Use reeds,
vines or green grasses.
Homemade greeting cards. Make
tiny or large homemade greeting
cards. Make square, round ones
or triangular ones. Write fun
greetings or leave them blank.
Decorate with natural objects or
Gift bags and gift-wrap. Simple
cheap brown paper bags can be
turned into really attractive gift
bags by adding decorations such
as glitter, sisal, coloured string,
ribbon, coloured card, twigs or
dried flowers. For gift-wrap, use
the same decorations on plain
Beaded jewellery. Teenagers love
inexpensive brightly coloured
beaded jewellery. Create your
jewellery range from inexpensive
Photo: Eric Prouzet
Woven bracelets. A wide variety
of things can be used to weave
flat wrist or ankle bracelets:
embroidery cotton, string, raffia,
old shoelaces, strips of leather,
Bookmarks. Stylish bookmarks
are always popular. Make
bookmarks from cloth, leather,
bamboo, wood, paper or wire.
Cloth books for toddlers. Buy
cheap cloth or baby blankets with
words and pictures on them. Cut
equal size rectangles or squares
and sew along one end to create
Handmade hair accessories. Buy
plain hair clips and Alice bands
cheaply and glue ribbons and
pretty buttons or sequins onto
— Julie Andrews
Gift baskets and hampers. Make
gift baskets and hampers for
birthdays, patients, Christmas,
Easter, Mother’s day, Father’s day
or Valentine’s day. Include items
like sweets, chocolates, biltong,
dry wors, fresh fruit, dried fruit
and a small bottle of champagne
or wine. Buy the contents in bulk
and at sales.
Cushions. Ever popular as
functional décor items, cushions
are quick, simple and inexpensive
to make. Make a basic cushion
that needs a cover and also
sell a range of covers in trendy
patterns and designs.
Create paper mâché decorations.
Mix one part flour with three
parts water. Stir until it becomes
a paste. Dip torn pieces of
newspaper into the paste so
that the pieces of newspaper
are thoroughly drenched in the
paste. Layer these strips of paper
over the basic shape you want
to create, i.e. an old cardboard
box or a balloon or simply
squeeze and pinch the paper
mache into the shapes you want
to create. Paint the item once it
is thoroughly dry. You can use
paper mache to make items like
bowls, jewellery boxes, business
card holders and, once you get
the hang of it, more sophisticated
things like masks.
Homemade sweets. Ever tried
to ignore the little sweets
and snacks at the checkout
point in any shop? Those tasty
temptations could be yours:
homemade fudge, coconut ice,
Turkish delight or peanut brittle.
If it’s good, it will sell and storeowners
will want it.
Photo: Merve Aydin
6. Things to provide from the
comfort of your home. Here are
Prepare school lunches. Buy
healthy, natural ingredients
to make sandwiches for
schoolchildren in your
neighbourhood or at your child’s
school. Add a fruit, yogurt and a
healthy snack to the box. Provide
options, i.e. whole-wheat or
Bake bread, cakes and things.
There is always a market for
freshly baked breads, delicious
homemade cakes, cupcakes and
Photo: Andrew Austin
Laundry service. Many people
just don’t have the time to do
everything that needs to be done.
Make it possible for them to
drop off and pick up their clean
laundry on a once-weekly basis.
Charge per item or per load.
Home-cooked meals. Many
professionals would love to get
home after a long day at work
and simply open a delicious,
nutritious, home-cooked meal
— at least a couple of times a
week. If you know your food is
good, then you don’t have to
go out of your way to create
fancy menus and many options.
Just offer what you make for
your own family. Make it a rule
that if the order is in by 10 am,
then the food will be ready for
collection by 5. 30 pm on the
same day. Work against advance
payment. As soon as the deposit
is depleted, let the person top
up. This will allow you to buy the
ingredients you need without
having to wait for payment at the
end of the week or month.
7. Provide a useful service
where it is needed. Many services
are available at businesses that
offer them. Many people would
be willing to pay extra for the
same service if it is delivered
where they are. Here are some
Dog grooming. If you love
animals and know that you can
handle even the fiercest of dogs,
then advertise that you can come
to people’s homes to wash their
dogs, trim their nails and treat
them for ticks and fleas. You’d be
surprised how many people are
willing to pay for such a service,
because they simply don’t have
the time to do it themselves or to
take their dogs to a place where
the service is offered.
Hairdressing. If you’re good at
cutting or styling hair, or if you
are an unemployed hairdresser,
offer to go to your customers’
Wash and wax cars where they
are. Go to your client’s workplace
and clean their car while they’re
at work … or wherever is
convenient for them. Your service
could be a simple wash and dry
or as extensive as wash, dry,
polish and detail.
Car mechanic. Do you know how
to fix cars or trucks? Do you have
the tools to do so? Have you
done work for people who are
willing to give you references?
Yes? Then get word out that you
are available any day of the week,
at any hour, wherever you’re
needed. You will get business.
8. Services for the elderly
or the very rich. Here are some
House sitting. Single and without
fixed abode? Let people know
that you are available to housesit
while they’re away on holiday.
You may be required to move
in for anything from a few days
to a few weeks or months.
If you organise this well and
develop a good reputation, you
may not have to pay rent for
months on end, and live in the
lap of luxury while doing so. You
will need character as well as
job references to do this one.
Beware: one slip-up and the
doors to this opportunity will
House watching. You may be
required to visit the house only
once or twice a day, to feed the
pets, water the plants, empty the
post box and turn some lights on
Walk the dogs. Busy or elderly
people may not be able to get
out to give their dogs much
needed exercise. Walk their dogs
for them. Wear plastic gloves
and put an inside-out plastic bag
over your hand. Grip the mess
through the plastic then turn
the packet in on itself so it’s no
longer inside out and the mess
is inside the packet. Use a shovel
for messier messes.
Photo: Leonides Ruvalcabar
Remove doggy-pooh from lawns.
Make yourself available one or
two days a week in a particular
neighbourhood. All you need is
a poop-scoop and plastic bags
... and a clever way to market
Children’s Parties. Many mothers
want to relax and enjoy their
child’s birthday party too. They
can, if you take care of the food,
entertainment, games and little
gifts or prizes, all within the party
Grocery shopping and errand
running. Advertise that you are
available to do shopping and
errands on specific days for
people who are too busy to do it
for themselves. If you stay close
to some shops, you can even do
this on foot. Charge a flat fee for
9. Useful services. Know how
to do something for yourself and
how to do it well? There are many
people out there who wish they
could do it for themselves, too.
Offer to do it for them. Here are
Can you sew, knit, crochet or
do anything of the sort? Many
people have no idea how to
replace a zip, sew on buttons, put
in a hem, extend a pair of jeans,
re-size a school uniform so that
it can be used for many years of
growth, or fix rips and tears —
especially university and college
students who are away from
home for the first time. Advertise
on the campus bulletin boards
and in the neighbourhood that
you are a “mom away from
Photo: Jeff Wade
Window cleaning. Homeowners
and business owners often
neglect window cleaning. Offer a
monthly cleaning service.
Pool cleaning. A little knowledge
and regular maintenance can
turn a nuisance pool into an item
of pride and joy.
Handyman services. Sell your
abilities to change plugs and
light bulbs, fix leaking taps, clean
gutters, repair washing machines,
put up shelves or replace broken
Building maintenance. Are you an
out-of-job builder? Do you know
others with different building
skills? Offer building maintenance
contracts to small and mediumsized
Gardening services. You will
need experience and the tools
of the trade. Be creative: offer
your services to petrol stations
and businesses with shoddy
gardens. Go one step further:
convince the owners to allow
you to plant edible things: fruittrees,
granadilla vines and other
ornamental plants that can feed
Your destiny isn’t a matter of
chance, it’s a matter of the
choices you make.
It’s not something you wait
for, but rather something
you pursue. Don’t wait for
Seize common occasions and
make them great.
10. Unusual services. Here
are some ideas:
Create stencilled pavement
house numbers. Use old x-ray
plates to create large stencils
for the numbers 0 to 9 — all
in the same size. Stencil your
house number on the small
ramp between the road and the
driveway to your house. Take a
photo of this and then go market
your product in a neighbourhood
where there are no street
numbers on the sidewalk.
Photo: Mélina Huet
Sorting / cleaning service. Anyone
with a garage, Wendy-house
or a spare room knows what
a chore it is to sort the stuff
that accumulates in it, and to
clean it out. If your garage is
spick-and-span, with designated
spaces for tools and things, take
photographs of it and offer to
do the same for others. Resell or
recycle the items they don’t want.
11. Use what you own
to make money. Here are some
Join Airbnb online and rent out a
room in your house. Continuous
business from this depends on
the quality of the photos you
present about the place, as well
as the references and referrals
Photo: Joseph Albanese
Rent out space in your garden.
Allow other people who need to
earn an income to grow produce
in your garden.
Rent out the wall in front of
your house as advertising space.
Does your property face a busy
street? Is the wall prominent?
Then go offer advertising space
on the wall to businesses in your
town. Find out what billboard
companies charge and calculate
what your size space would
amount to at about 50% of the
going rate. It’s a win-win.
Offer a secure space in your
home for school kids to do their
homework in after school. Many
working parents are worried sick
about what their unsupervised
children are doing at home, but
don’t know what to do about it.
You could augment this service
with transport from school, a
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Helping you land the work
you’d love to do
healthy afternoon snack, help
with homework, extra lessons,
swimming lessons … and even a
ready-made supper to be picked
up by the parent when they come
to get their child. Do find out if
you need a license to do this.
Photo: Victor Xok
Do you have wheels? If so, why
not offer your services to transfer
people from hospital or airport
to hotel, to move items bought
at a department or second-hand
store to people’s homes, or to
deliver anything on an “as per
Do you have an email address,
a postal address and a phone?
Become an “admin office”
for others: taking messages,
collecting their mail, getting email
12. Use what you know
to make money.
Teach your own language. Many
people would pay to learn how
to communicate in your mother
tongue. Offer conversational
classes in your language to highschool
kids, university students
or embassy staff.
Language translation. You
may know one or many of the
languages of our multilingual
nation of ours. Register
your freelance services
with businesses that offer
translations, transcription and
After-school and holiday classes
for children. Teach children
what you know, i.e. bake a
cake, set a table, send an email,
cook an omelette … Parents
will appreciate the after-school
care combined with skills
development — especially during
Know how to sing or play a
musical instrument? Do a gig at
a restaurant or pub in exchange
for a meal. Arrange that if the
patrons like it, you must get paid
for subsequent performances.
Coach a sport. If you know the
how and what of a particular
sport, i.e. cricket, rugby, soccer,
netball, tennis, swimming, etc.
offer your coaching services to
schools in your vicinity or as a
private coach to rich kids.
Photo: Tshikululu Social Investments
Teach your artistry to
aspiring performers or coach
professionals wanting to get
better at what they do. Teach
business professionals who are
scared to speak and perform
in front of their peers. Many
students will benefit from
learning to dance. Offer one-onone
lessons at a reasonable cost.
Train the corporate world.
Don’t limit yourself to training
individuals or private groups
of people. Polish up your act
and cash in on the billion Rand
corporate training market.
Mass produce your advice.
Selling your product or service
one-on-one limits the amount
of money you can earn to the
number of people you can
personally see. To increase your
profits without significantly
increasing your work, consider
turning your expertise into
booklets, books, computer
programs, MP3s, DVDs and
things that live online, so that
you can sell in quantity to a wide
Sell your recipes. Collect your
own and your family’s favourite
recipes in a laser-printed booklet
which you can also sell in PDF
Typing, transcription and dataentry.
Offer your fast and
efficient typing skills on an “asneeded”
basis to businesses that
need or offer this kind of service,
or to journalists who need to
transcribe voice recordings
of interviews. Advertise your
service in the “smalls” of the local
newspaper. Many people may
need the service on an ad-hoc
basis, but not often enough to
warrant employing someone.
Beware of online data-entry jobs,
especially if you are required to
pay a fee before you can start
Sell your information and
knowledge on the web. If you
have access to the Internet, know
how to create a website and use
email, you could multiply your
income for many of the above
information-based services. Be
warned, that the learning curve is
long and tough.
Become an industry consultant.
Have you been retrenched
or ousted because of BBEE
requirements or economic
downturn? Go back to your
former employer and offer
your services on an ad-hoc
consultancy basis. They get the
benefit of trained personnel
without having to pay payroll
taxes and benefits.
Keep on beginning
and failing. Each time
you fail, start all over
again. You will grow
stronger until you have
accomplished a purpose
– not the one you
began with perhaps,
but one you’ll be glad
— Anne Sullivan,
teacher to Helen Keller
september sample | content 2019
Here’s how you can help
in your community!
1. Do you print a church, school,
business or community newsletter
or paper? Make the following list
available to which unemployed
people can add their details —
online or at your offices:
Name | cell number | email
address | skills, capabilities,
offerings | availability | reference
name and contact number.
Publish the list AND put it up on a
notice board. Invite feedback on the
quality of work delivered. Make it
known that negative feedback will
result in the provider being dropped
from the list.
2. Make your school, church or
community office available for
unemployed people to get together
once a week for an hour or two:
to have a cup of coffee, share
their experiences and brainstorm
options. Make available any
resources you know of, like South
African Conversations. Tell them
about programmes set up to help
people help themselves. Invite larger
businesses to open their in-house
training, resources and facilities to
people who attend these meetings.
3. Start a community fund to
help unemployed people set up
micro-enterprises. Develop clear
guidelines and repayment policies.
4. Start a community fund to
fix your run-down environment
— using skills from the pool
of unemployed people in your
community. Plant edible plants in
public places. Fix broken windows.
Restore dilapidated buildings and
put them to community use. Restore
pride and dignity to all involved.
Let’s talk about
Many South Africans have little tolerance for foreigners
– especially foreigners from further north in Africa.
We don’t care whether they are here as refugees, as migrant workers or as legal
immigrants. We assume that they’ve come to take our jobs, our houses, our lovers. We
forget about the millions of people who cross borders the world over, every day, to visit,
study, marry, work, stay, start businesses or get medical treatment – including South
Africans of all hues. And we forget that thousands upon thousands of our people were
harboured by neighbouring countries during the apartheid years.
We are living in an age of cosmopolitanism. There are few places on earth where the
original population is intact. There are South Africans in every corner of the globe,
as there are people from all over the globe in South Africa.
Photo: Mariya Georgieva
in our country
Many people seem to think that
migrants leave their countries of
origin on a whim, looking for a better
lifestyle, prospects and money.
While this may be so for some, most
refugees and economic migrants
would choose – if such a choice was
possible – to be with their families, in
familiar surroundings, speaking the
languages they grew up with, eating
the foods they love, being accepted,
respected and understood
in a stable, peaceful and safe
environment in which it is possible
for them to build a life worth living.
It is not easy to go to a foreign
country, to risk xenophobic attacks,
hatred, abuse, harassment, rejection
... and start everything all over again.
What we need to understand, as
South Africans, is that fleeing their
homeland was not a choice, but a
necessity for most refugees ... and
the hardship they suffer here is
often the lesser of two evils — even
for economic migrants.
We are not talking here about
people who apply for a visa to visit
or study and stay temporarily. Nor
are we talking about those who have
followed due process to immigrate.
We are talking about people who
leave their homes because of
unbearable circumstances and
A humanitarian crisis is an event or
series of events which represents a
critical threat to the health, safety,
security or wellbeing of a community
or other large group of people,
usually over a wide area. Not all such
people qualify for refugee status. A
refugee is someone who has been
forced to flee his or her country
because of a well-founded fear of
persecution for reasons of race,
religion, nationality, political opinion
or membership in a particular social
group. Most likely, they cannot
return home or is afraid to do so.
They become asylum-seekers,
hoping that the government of the
host country will protect them and
allow them to live there. There are
others who, though they may not be
persecuted, cannot go back because
life back home simply cannot be
So you’re from
Yes, we are
do you come here?
when we’re hungry
when we’ve run out of
How many of you?
The whole family –
import duty is cheaper
when you travel as a
Where do you sleep?
In the car,
in the trailer,
in the back of the truck,
under the tarp
we pray it doesn’t rain
by Spencer Chatora, Jean Pierre A. Lukamba & Therésa Müller | Photo: Beth Tate
Why do people leave
• Persecution and torture (journalists,
human rights activists, political dissidents,
conscientious objectors, )
• Armed conflict and war (rebels, regime
• Violence (rape, murder, destruction of
crops and property)
• Discrimination (gays in Uganda, albinos
in East Africa)
• Bad governance and food shortages
• Epidemics, famine (Somalia, Ethiopia)
• Natural disasters (earthquakes, drought
• Major emergencies (atomic radiation
leaks, toxic spills.)
It is a curious thing that people
from further north in Africa –
someone with a black skin – is
an unwelcome kwere-kwere (a
derogatory term for foreigner), but
someone with a lighter skin is
welcomed and often revered.
Just an observation.
Really, how do you
We think of the hunger
the bread queue
empty shop shelves
When are you going
back to your country?
Agringada: Like A Gringa,
Like A Foreigner
Poems by Tariro Ndoro
A migrant’s tale
by Spencer Chatora | firstname.lastname@example.org
My story starts when I
decided that it was time
for me to move on – to find
a better future outside
of Zimbabwe, where I
had been a public health
The political climate
was oppressive and the
economy was shrinking.
One can live with lots of
difficult situations, but
when it becomes difficult to
feed one’s family because of
an intermittently delivered
salary that buys less and
less every month, then it is
time to make a plan.
Initially I set off for the
United Kingdom, as was
the trend with many young
Zimbabweans those days.
I had to leave my wife and
two-year old daughter
behind with a promise
to come back for them.
I spent a fruitless year
in London doing mostly
menial work ... as a packer
in a factory ... as a cleaner
in a restaurant kitchen.
Getting a job as a waiter
is really a high-end find in
London, by the way. I came
across so many qualified
people doing menial work
in London: a pharmacist
from Zim driving a London
bus, a doctor from Bulgaria
cleaning toilets in a youth
hostel, a gynecologist from
Bangladesh working as a
After taking careful stock of my
progress (or lack thereof) I decided
to move with my family to South
Africa. My stint in the United
Kingdom was a rude awakening to
the whole experience of living life
as a foreigner. At the time I was
too absorbed in my struggles to
realise that I was gaining valuable
experience that would prove useful
elsewhere. I tried to get a work
permit and also to get refugee
status — anything that would
enable me to remain legally in a
foreign land. By the time I left for
South Africa I was familiar with
the documentation process and
the challenges associated with it.
Despite all that, it was a nightmare
trying to “get legal” in South Africa.
The visitor’s visa had to be renewed
every three months while waiting
for a work permit. I had never seen
I handed in my application and got
my permit 5 months later. I would
have given up if it wasn’t for the
help of an immigration practitioner.
They are very expensive, but they
know the law, they know whether
your particular qualifications give
you a chance of being successful
in your application, and they know
the process and the documentation
Many people (especially South
Africans) talk of a corrupt
Department of Home Affairs. There
are delays and inefficiencies and
documents going missing, but in
spite of all of this, proper procedure
seems to be followed. I was never
asked to pay a bribe. I have,
however, heard of Zimbabweans
paying bribes to get what they need.
I guess the wrong-doing goes both
ways: desperate people offer bribes
in a system not set up to detect
I got my first job in the country as
a tutor at a small private health
college within 3 weeks of arrival.
That was a major breakthrough:
many people look for work that
matches their qualifications, for
months and sometimes years. I
was so grateful for the job, despite
the fact that the salary offered was
far below industry standards. To
make ends meet I took on a second
job: I worked in a restaurant as a
waiter at night-time. I did that for
18 months. Life was really tough.
There were times that I even
regretted having left the UK. Many
friends and relatives viewed me as
a total failure and even anticipated
my going back to Zimbabwe. My
marriage started to fall apart. We
were facing a lot of insecurities and
financial difficulties. My wife, who is
a qualified bookkeeper worked as
a helper at a day-care, taking care
of babies. We were fearful for our
lives: would we be the victims of the
next xenophobic attack? The stress
was almost unbearable and our
relationship started to unravel and
eventually we separated.
This painful experience sunk deep
into my heart. I was traumatized
and depressed. I did a lot of soul
searching. The overriding feeling
was that I had let down my loved
ones ... that I had failed as a man.
I believe the story of my difficult
journey parallels that of many other
foreigners in this country. Leaving
one’s land of birth, a familiar
environment and the comfort of
loved ones is no easy undertaking.
Often one has to give up something
precious in anticipation of
something better. Sadly a lot of
South Africans seem to be under
the illusion that foreigners just wake
up one morning and then come
down here to grab their wealth. Far
The world is a global village. It
always has been. Thinking people
will not just hang around to watch
their lives waste away in adverse
situations. For millennia people
have migrated in search of better
pasture, better weather, and for
economic and political freedom.
Besides, none of us, really, can claim
to belong to any particular land. If
you dig deep enough, you will find
that your ancestors come from
It is not a crime to be a visitor in
a foreign land. It is not a crime
to apply for a permit to work in a
foreign land. Skilled professionals
from other countries invariably
make a positive contribution to
the host country’s economic wellbeing.
Exposure to other cultures
invariably enrich all involved. It is
a myopic lack of insight into an
increasingly “foreign” world that
fuels animosity. A lot of foreigners
do not have the luxury of giving up
on their mission for a better life
– despite threats of violence and
sometimes open victimisation. It is
through such hard-knock schooling
that some foreigners have turned
out exceptionally well and achieved
the extra-ordinary, in spite of the
most trying circumstances.
I had to start almost right at the
bottom when I came here. Hard
work and God’s providence has
helped me and I am happy to report
that seven years after landing in
South Africa I got a management
position in which I am in charge
of training and development. My
wife and I reconciled after years
of separation that almost ended
in divorce. I am grateful for the
opportunity South Africa has given
me to make a life for myself and
my family. n
How can South Africans help
the foreigners in our midst?
by Spencer Chatora | email@example.com
Photo: Janet Quino of one of 90,000 Ivorians to have fled after a post-electoral crisis erupted in their home country in 2011
sample content 31
South Africans can make a huge • The incredible richness and As part of their Corporate Social
positive difference in the lives of
beauty of the world’s different Responsibility initiatives, big
foreigners by accepting the mobile cultures
business could consider projects
ebb and flow of human labour as
aimed at helping asylum seekers,
• The benefits to be had from
a reality of life the world over ...
such as the provision of better
living in culturally diverse
by treating foreigners like human
accommodation, literacy and
beings ... by avoiding stereotypes
nutrition programmes for the
and by exercising tolerance with • The realities experienced children of asylum seekers and
regard to cultural differences, like by many refugees and the sponsorships of anti-Xenophobia
language, dress and customs.
difficulties foreigners encounter media campaigns.
when the arrive in a new
If South Africans could understand
Businesses could lobby the Home
the difficulties that foreigners
Affairs department to process
experience, they would view them South African business and the work permits for foreigners more
with more sympathy and they national economy gain immensely timeously, perhaps allowing
would show more support which, from foreign skilled labour.
workers to commence work on an
in turn, would allow foreigners to South African businesses must offer of employment, even while
integrate more easily into their new understand that they are allowed they are waiting for their permit to
to to employ foreigners who are arrive. (Many offers of employment
legally in the country: people who are currently withdrawn and bank
Local media has a key role to play
have complied with the law and accounts frozen because of permit
in the dissemination of unbiased,
followed due process to obtain a delays, causing endless hardship to
factual information about foreigners,
valid work permit. The system has to applicants and their families.)
in educating the public about the
accommodate foreighers, because
rights of foreigners as enshrined
Foreign employees must be given
South Africa suffers from great skills
in the constitution of the country,
time off to renew their documents
shortages and many foreigners have
in the avoidance of stereotypical
at Home Affairs. Small bussiness
much to contribute.
and sensationalist information that
are notorious for denying workers
portray foreigners in a bad light. Big business should practice good the right to do this, entrapping
corporate governance and fair foreigners in a web of illegal
Community leaders like local
labour practices at all levels by employment, under-payment and
councillors, school principals, the
ensuring fair remuneration to local poor living conditions.
local clergy, labour organisations and
and foreign employees alike. There
the media can help safeguard their
Current immigration laws should
should never be attempts to underpay
foreign labour – or any labour,
communities against the devastating
be reviewed to ensure they better
consequences of xenophobia,
serve the interests of the national
for that matter. Labour organisations
by sharing information on world
economy by making it easier for
could ensure that employers pay
issues that have led to the influx of
businesses to recruit scarce skills
foreign employees at the same rate
refugees, by educating local people
as locals across all employment
about the rights of foreigners, and
levels for similar work. (A large Xenophobia should never be
by organising cultural events that
number of highly qualified foreigners tolerated at any level. The police
celebrate the richness of culturally
are currently working in positions that should be more sensitive towards
diverse communities — allowing
they are over-qualified for, at salaries the plight of foreigners who fall
people of the community to get
that are exploitative. Private schools victim to crime. This would go a long
to know each other ... thereby
and colleges are notorious for this way in protecting vulnerable foreign
demystifying the issue of foreigners.
practice.) There should never be any women and children who bear most
Schools and churches can help by attempts to exploit the vulnerability of the brunt of xenophobic attacks
educating communities and raising of any group of people.
that go unreported due to fear of
victimisation and reprisals. n
The cultural context
A friend tells the charming
story of his aged father
arriving in Durban to visit
one of his sons. As they
walk down a busy street,
the old man stops every
few seconds and asks
people how they are. The
son very quickly has to
intervene and educate his
“This is the city, father.
There are too many people
here to greet. You greet only
those you know, not the ones
you don’t know.”
It was an incomprehensible
rudeness that the old man
just couldn’t get used to.
The same old man sold
his horse to a young man
in their rural community.
After a couple of days the
young man stopped by
to enquire: “Why does the
horse come to a standstill
whenever we approach
“To greet and enquire about
the other’s life, of course,”
the old man replied.
The horse had absorbed
the old man’s way of life
and did not even have to
be prompted to stop and
be civil to the people of
ANSWER: Hello. This is
REPLY: Hello, how are you?
ANSWER: (mildly irritated)
Fine, thank you. Who are
This is a relatively common
exchange between black
people and white people in
For many black people,
the question “How are you?
(Kunjani? / O kae?)” is the
only respectful way to start
This civility is inherent in
most African languages
and cultures. To start
with the purpose of your
call would be offensively
impolite. For instance,
one would not dream of
simply saying “Dumela”.
The greeting will always be
followed by the question:
“O phela jwang?” which
literally means, “How is
your life?” — reminiscent
of an era when people still
had time to engage with
To the white person, the
question feels like an
intrusion: “You don’t know
who I am and you haven’t
even announced yourself,
how can you ask me how
I am?” She wants to first
know who you are and
what the purpose of your
call is, before engaging in
small talk with you.
When there is
understanding it is
possible to not only
tolerate and accept our
differences, but to respect
the other’s behaviour.
HOW ABOUT LEARNING MY
Everything can change, but not the
language that we carry inside us,
like a world more exclusive and final
than one’s mother’s womb.
– Italo Calvino. Writer, Essayist, Journalist
There are about 6,000 languages spoken in the
world.* Ninety five percent of these languages
are spoken by only four percent of the world’s
population. Across the world an average of two
languages die out each month. That is why,
in 1999, UNESCO proclaimed February 21 as
International Mother Language Day.
Language is the most powerful instrument we
have to preserve our cultural wealth and our
diverse cultural heritage. The day is celebrated
around the world, annually, to promote
dialogue among different cultures and people,
and to foster mutual understanding and
respect for all cultures.
* UNESCO’s “Atlas of the World Languages in Danger of Disappearing”.
And did you know that, in spite of major
opposition, Madiba insisted on including
‘Die Stem’ in the National Anthem of the new
South Africa, signifying respect for all races and
cultures and the dawning of an all-inclusive
new era for South Africa.
Are you one of those people who keep quiet
during the verses of the Anthem that is not in
your mother tongue?
We’d like to challenge you to learn to sing the
National Anthem of South Africa and get to
know what the words mean, too.
The lyrics and the translation of each non-
English verse is on the opposite page.
Every month we’ll give you two or more words to learn in all our official languages. Here’s how to
say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Ask a friend or a co-worker to teach you how to pronounce the words.
Try, at least, to master those words that belong to the languages that are spoken where you live.
LANGUAGE PREDOMINANT IN WORDS
English Western Cape Please Thank you
Afrikaans Northern Cape Asseblief Dankie
Sesotho sa Leboa
(Pedi – or Northern Sotho)
(Sotho – or Southern Sotho)
Mpumalanga Ngiyabawa Ngiyathokoza
Limpopo Ka kgopelo Ke a leboga
Free State Ke a kopa Ke a leboha
Setswana North West Province Ke kopa Ke a leboga
Xitsonga Limpopo Ndza kombela Inkomu
Tshivenda Limpopo Nga khumbelo Ndo livhuwa / Ro
IsiXhosa Eastern Cape Nceda Enkosi
IsiZulu KwaZulu-Natal Ngicela Ngiyabonga
SiSwati Mpumalanga Ngiyacela Siyabonga
You can learn to speak all 11 of our official languages, as well as South African sign language,
free of charge, online, at https://play.google.com ... Click on Apps, then type the name of the
language you would like to learn into the search bar.
(Xhosa) Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo,
(Zulu) Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.
(Sotho) Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
Setjhaba sa, South Afrika, South Afrika.
(Afrikaans) Uit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,
(English) Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom
In South Africa our land.
God [Lord] bless Africa
Raise high its glory
Hear our prayers
God bless us, her children
God, we ask You to protect our nation
Intervene and end all conflicts
Protect us, protect our nation, our
South Africa - South Africa
Out of the blue of our heavens,
Out of the depths of our seas,
Over our everlasting mountains,
Where the echoing crags resound ...
A young man’s experience
I am sitting here by the street,
because I have no job. I told
my mother that I will get a job,
but eish, I have been here for
so long and every night I go
back home with no job. I think
people don’t want to use me
because I look too young. The
older men, they get jobs.
Sometimes it rains, sometimes
it is very cold. Sometimes I
get hungry. Then I go and beg
at that robot. But those guys
there, that’s their robot. They
don’t want me to stand there.
On Tuesdays I dig the rubbish
bins. There are many people
doing that. 20 to 30 in each
place. It is difficult to get in.
That old man there, he took me
the first time. So the others,
they accepted me. Sometimes
you get nice things. And
sometimes you get food. Then
we take all the stuff to the
recycle and the others we sell
at home. One day I made R79
from the rubbish at the recycle.
My mother is a domestic. She
can’t pay for me to come here
every day. So I walk here from
Diepsloot every morning. It is
bad. I don’t want to go home,
because everyone is hungry.
I got a piece-job last year.
I worked the garden. But the
people went on holiday in
December and they didn’t tell
me. So, when I got there, I had
wasted the transport and I had
no transport back because they
would pay me that day.
That was the first time I sit here
by the side of the road. At the
end of the day I walked all the
way to Diepsloot.
I was hungry and it rained so
hard. When I got home my
mother cried. Even though
the money was small, at least
I was getting food while I was
I walked there one day to see if
they were back, but there was
Photo: Mélina Huet. Assistant: Nkosazana Teyise
According to the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR),
waste-pickers save South African municipalities millions of Rands every year.
For instance, an amazing 80–90% of all paper and packaging waste is recovered
by waste-pickers who make a living from recycling these items.* It would serve
all of us and the environment to support these people in any way that we can.
Here’s how you can help
• Separate recyclable things in accordance with the categories outlined below.
• Leave edible food in a separate, clean bag or container, labelled ‘FOOD’, on or next to the rubbish bin.
There are more hungry people out there than you could begin to imagine.
• Put clothes, shoes, bedding, books, etc. in a separate bag, and label these accordingly.
• Treat everyone you meet with respect.
Here is a list of things that you can pick up and recycle for money. Speak to other recyclers or phone the
numbers below to find out if there is a buy-back centre near you. Or go to https://www.mywaste.co.za to
locate a drop off site near you.
• Paper & cardboard: Used office paper, old books, newspapers, magazines and cardboard. Contact:
Recycle Paper.co.za on 011 803 5063 https://recyclepaper.co.za
• Metal: The Metal Recyclers Association of South Africa (MRA) does not publicise their telephone
number. They have a member locator with numbers on their website: www.mra.co.za
• Glass: The Glass Recycling Company. https://theglassrecyclingcompany.co.za 0861 2 45277
• Cans: Collect-A-Can pays for cans by weight. www.collectacan.co.za 011 466-2939
• Plastic: Plastics|SA www.plasticsinfo.co.za 011 314 4021; POLYCO, www.polyco.co.za 021-531-0647;
South African Plastics Recycling Organisation, www.sapro.biz 083 654 8967
Join the South African Waste Pickers Association (SAWPA) on Facebook. SAWPA promotes, defends and
protects the interests and rights of people collecting and selling waste.
When asked how people could help,
the surprising answer had nothing to do
with assistance, but was a cry for dignity.
When people come out of their
driveway and see me digging in their
rubbish bin, they look at me as if I’m
crazy. I’m not a monster. I’m without
job, but I’m making a job for myself.
Don’t look away!
We know it’s not pretty.
But these are human beings.
They are at the bottom of the
pile for numerous complex
reasons … NOT because they
are inferior or less deserving
of decent life opportunities
than those who made it to
Most of us cannot
do anything on a
large scale to make
a difference to the
status quo. But we
can make a difference
by acknowledging the
human beings trapped
at the bottom.
The status of the least among us
Photo: Jan Truter
The most important thing people at the top of the pile can do is to pay
decent, living wages to the people who serve and maintain our lives:
the cleaners, gardeners, cashiers, waiters, drivers ... enabling these
labourers to take care of their own lives, so that they or their children
don’t end up having to scavenge in rubbish bins or on rubbish dumps.
is the measure of our civilization
– T. David Millican
Some things you
need to know about
It is estimated that as many as one out
of every four of South Africa’s children
suffers from some form of malnutrition.
Without adequate nutrition in the early
stages of development, children can
suffer physical and emotional stunting
and damage to their intellect.
Malnutrition is an underlying cause of
60% of our children’s deaths.
Even moderate iodine deficiency lowers
intelligence by 10 to 15 IQ points, shaving
incalculable potential off a nation’s
Researchers have known as far back as
1951 that nutritional deficiencies have a
negative effect on learning behavior in
Health and nutrition have been proven to
have close links with overall educational
Malnutrition increases the risk of infection
and infectious disease.
Malnutrition is responsible for lower
energy levels and impaired function of the
Malnutrition is linked to aggression and
Here’s what you
can do about it
Breast feed your baby. Mother’s milk
contains everything a baby needs for
optimal growth. It doesn’t cost anything,
just your time with your child. It is the best
defence against child-mortality caused
by malnutrition and against infectious
diseases. Get advice from your clinic or
doctor if you are an HIV positive mother.
PAY DECENT WAGES so that people
can afford to properly feed themselves
and their children.
Send a monthly supply of food-based
vitamins to the children of your domestic
Plant your own vegetables and teach
everyone you know how to do that for
themselves and their families, too.
Eat more plants! Especially leafy green
Stop eating junk food and avoid artificial
and chemical ingredients.
Petition the government to provide
multi-vitamins and essential fatty-acids
to school-children in disadvantaged
neighbourhoods and communities.
Petition the government to do the same
for inmates in all our prisons.
Did you know that you can
eat beetroot leaves in the
same way that you eat
spinach? What’s more, they
contain a powerful dose of
protein, calcium, fiber, beta
carotene, vitamins A and C,
some B vitamins and more
vitamin K than any other
leafy green vegetable.
And of course you know
that you don’t pay for
the leaves when you buy
beetroot. In fact, many
shoppers will ask the
greengrocer to cut the
leaves off, not knowing that
they’re throwing away a
nutritious free meal. If you
see that happening, ask if
you may have the leaves.
(You can do the same with
the outer layers of cabbage
leaves that greengrocers
often discard. The darker
the leaf, the higher the
nutrition content. Say it’s
for your rabbits if you feel
embarrassed asking for it.)
Delicious beetroot leaf recipe.
Wash and chop the leaves. (The stems are perfectly edible,
too, and add roughage and a slightly sweet beet-rooty taste.)
Chop up a large onion and fry it until golden brown, but still
translucent. Use a big pot so that all the leaves will fit, though
they will quickly cook down to very little, just like spinach.
Now add the chopped leaves, a small drop of water and some
crushed garlic to the onion, close the lid and let it simmer for
a few minutes on a low heat.
Add salt and black pepper and mix the lot.
Optional: add some olive oil, lemon juice or feta cheese.
Serve immediately with pasta, rice or papa – or as a side-dish.
Use the left-overs on sandwiches. Yummy!
Now that you know, make
sure to select the best,
freshest crop of leaves
when you buy beetroot.
(You’ll get the best roots that
way, too.) Don’t buy very
large beet roots: they’re
often chewy with little
You can also include
beet leaves in salads –
the smaller leaves are
especially delicious. Eat the
beet roots themselves raw
(grated) or boiled, steamed,
roasted or sautéed.
Photo: Natalia Fogarty
These are words used in this issue of the magazine.
If you look up the meaning of every word you don’t know,
you’ll soon have an incredible vocabulary.
Accessible: the quality of being able to be reached or entered
Accordance: in a manner conforming with
Accuracy: the quality or state of being correct or precise
Acknowledge: accept, admit or recognise the existence of
Activist: a person who campaigns for political or social change
Adequate: satisfactory or acceptable in quality or quantity
Adverse: preventing success or development; harmful
Affluent: having a great deal of money; wealthy
Agenda: a list of items to be discussed
Alter: change in character or composition
Amicable: characterized by friendliness and absence of discord
Appropriately: in a manner that is proper in the circumstances
Arbitrate: reach an authoritative judgement or settlement
Associated: connected with something else
Augment: make (something) greater by adding to it
Avoidance: keeping away from or not doing something
Awareness: knowledge or perception of a situation or fact
Bureaucracy: excessively complicated administrative procedure
Capability: the power or ability to do something
Capacity: the maximum amount that something can contain
Civility: formal politeness and courtesy in behaviour or speech
Clergy: the group of people ordained for religious duties
Cohesion: the action or fact of forming a united whole
Collaborate: work jointly on an activity or project
Collectively: as a group; as a whole
Comprise: consist of; be made up of
Condescension: an attitude of patronizing superiority; disdain
Conviviality: the quality of being friendly and lively; friendliness
Cosmopolitan: including people from many different countries
Deficiency: a lack or shortage
Demystify: make something easier to understand
Discord: disagreement between people; lack of harmony
Disseminate: spread (something, especially information) widely
Dissident: a person who opposes official policy
Downturn: a decline in economic, business, or other activity
Enshrine: preserve (a right, tradition, or idea) in a form that ensures it
will be protected and respected
Entrench: establish (an attitude, habit, or belief) so firmly that change is
very difficult or unlikely
Equate: consider (one thing) to be the same as or equivalent to another
Eradicate: destroy completely; put an end to
Erode: gradually destroy or be gradually destroyed
Exacerbate: make (a problem or bad situation) worse
Expatriate: a person who lives outside their native country
Fragment: a small part broken off or separated from something
Fruition: the realization or fulfilment of a plan or project; bearing fruit
Hamper: hinder or impede the movement or progress of
Impair: weaken or damage
Incalculable: too great to be calculated or estimated
Incomprehensible: not able to be understood
Indicative: serving as a sign or indication of something
Influx: an arrival or entry of large numbers of people or things
Infrastructure: the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities
(e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) of a society or enterprise
Inherent: existing in something as an essential or characteristic attribute
Integrate: combine (one thing) with another to form a whole
Intermittently: at irregular intervals
Intervene: take part in something so as to prevent or alter a result
Intrinsic: belonging naturally; essential
Intrude: put oneself deliberately into a situation where one is uninvited
Invariably: in every case or on every occasion; always
Languish: lose or lack vitality; grow weak
Liability: the state of being legally responsible for something
Malnutrition: lack of proper nutrition caused by not having enough to eat, not
eating enough of the right things to eat
Marginalise: treatment of a person, group or concept as insignificant
Mediation: intervention in a dispute in order to resolve it; arbitration
Merit: the quality of being particularly good or worthy, deserving praise
Millennium: a period of a thousand years
Mobilise: prepare and organize
Moderate: average in amount, intensity, quality, or degree; not radical
Mortality: the state of being subject to death
Myopic: short-sighted; lacking foresight or intellectual insight
Obligation: a duty or commitment
Oppressive: inflicting harsh and authoritarian treatment
Optimal: best or most favourable
Origin: the point or place where something begins
Oust: drive out or expel (someone) from a position or place
Perpetuate: make (something) continue indefinitely
Persecution: hostility and ill-treatment; oppression
Plight: a dangerous, difficult, or otherwise unfortunate situation
Precedent: an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide
to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances
Premise: an assertion or proposition which forms the basis for something
Preserve: maintain (something) in its original or existing state
Prior: existing or coming before in time, order, or importance
Proclaim: announce officially or publicly
Profound: (of a state, quality, or emotion) very great or intense
Prospect: the possibility or likelihood of some future event occurring
Reminiscent: tending to remind one of something
Reprisal: an act of retaliation
Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something
Robust: strong and healthy; vigorous
Sensationalist: a person who presents stories in a way that is intended to
provoke public interest or excitement at the expense of accuracy
Signify: be an indication of
Subversion: undermining the power and authority of a system
Succulent: having thick fleshy leaves or stems adapted to storing water
Surplus: something left over when requirements have been met
Synonymous: having the same meaning as another word or phrase
Unacknowledged: not accepted, recognized, or admitted to
Unfettered: not confined or restricted
Victimisation: singling someone out for cruel or unjust treatment
Wastrel: a wasteful or good-for-nothing person
R50. The equivalent of two cups
of coffee per month.
That’s what it takes
to help a self-employed
fellow South African
make a living –
Just imagine how many lives could
change with our combined small change.
Find out where the magazine is for sale ... or what it takes
to make space available for a seller at your place.
www.southafricanconversations.co.za | 011 568 6068 | 0860 333 034
From South Africans to South Africans. A thought-provoking read about the stuff
no-one talks about ... along with practical solutions towards a better South Africa.
Speak to all of South Africa
from one platform.
While we may have little in common, we all have a vested interest
in the well-being of our country – if only because our own well-being
is closely tied to it.
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