South African Conversations sample articles

South African Conversations is a certified Level 2 B-BBEE, majority Black-owned Micro Enterprise that publishes a street magazine that pays 50% of the cover price to sellers and 20% to Distribution Hubs. Take a look at the kind of content you can expect on the pages of South African Conversations.

South African Conversations is a certified Level 2 B-BBEE, majority Black-owned Micro Enterprise that publishes a street magazine that pays 50% of the cover price to sellers and 20% to Distribution Hubs.

Take a look at the kind of content you can expect on the pages of South African Conversations.


Create successful ePaper yourself

Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.



Challenging the divide




(incl. VAT)

R25 goes to the seller

WIN a Book

Here’s what

we can do

as individuals,

families, communities

and businesses

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.


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content




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 ...

and obligations

14 How to make a living when there are no jobs

25 Here’s how you can help unemployed people in

your community!

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

about nutrition

43 Free food: beetroot leaves

44 Dictionary


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

Our nation


None of us are the stereotypes described here, yet most of us will recognise a bit of ourselves somewhere on these pages.

Older generation

returned expatriates

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

South Africa.

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

of apartheid

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,

marginalised families.

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

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


‘glass ceiling’ beyond which

many find it difficult to move –

especially in the presence of

White professionals.

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

post-apartheid opportunities.

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

cultural identity.

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


Emerging historically


South Africans

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

government departments.

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

up appearances.

They sometimes have a sense

of entitlement, a culture of ‘the

world owes me.’ That world is


South Africans

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


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

Charisse Kenion

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.

The takers

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.

Old-school historically

advantaged people

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

during apartheid.

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

their circumstances.

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.

Liberal historically

advantaged people

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


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


They are saddened by the past and

want to see our country change

and heal.

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

of living.

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

the past.

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.

Historically advantaged

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

status quo

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

happened here.

The unclassifiables

A large group of South Africans

(and foreigners) that transcends

stereotypical categories.

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

to school.

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


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

Does this

child have

a choice?

Written by the South

African Conversations team

… based on the true story

of a boy named Thabiso.

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


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

always dying.)

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.



southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

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

picked up.

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.

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


These are

our children.

We will all

profit by,

or pay for,


they become.

– James Baldwin


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

Photo: iStock

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

So long?

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

I die?

– Minstrel Man by Langston Hughes, Black American poet

Maids & madams

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

Know your rights!

... and do the right thing.

(and obligations)


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 domestics@uif.gov.za 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

448 0045.

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:

complaints@ccma.org.za 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

the law.

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 help@blacksash.org.za

Black Sash works to empower

marginalised people to speak for




southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


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.

How to

make a


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


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

Hunger is not the

worst feature of


idleness is.

– 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.

Photo: Sucrebrut

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

some ideas:

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


Grow succulents. They are easy

to grow from small cuttings put

straight into soil. Sell them to

your local supermarket or

florist shop.

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

this hobby.


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.


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


Start your own business with as little as R250!

Buy and sell South African Conversations magazine –

and earn 100% return on your investment.


Go to www.southafricanconversations.co.za and complete

a registration form. We’ll get back to you with information to get you

started. Or call our sharecall number: 0860 333 034.

It is the cost of a local call only.


Photo: Eskinder Debebe

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


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

own gardens.

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

annual fair.

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.


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

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

to sell.

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

recycled materials.

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

brown paper.

Beaded jewellery. Teenagers love

inexpensive brightly coloured

beaded jewellery. Create your

jewellery range from inexpensive

glass beads.

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

a book.

Handmade hair accessories. Buy

plain hair clips and Alice bands

cheaply and glue ribbons and

pretty buttons or sequins onto



is failing

19 times

and succeeding

the 20th.

— 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

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


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

some ideas:

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

white bread.

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


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

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

and off.

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

the service.

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

some ideas:

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

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


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

hungry passers-by.

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

extraordinary opportunities.

Seize common occasions and

make them great.

— Unknown

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

you get.

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

Have you

sent out

hundreds of






Do an Anthos

Work Sharp TM Career

Development workshop


i Learn to see yourself in a new,

positive light i Understand

the changing demands of the

world of work i Learn the art

of information gathering and

creative work searching i Learn

to draft a very impressive CV i

Improve your networking skills

and interview skills i Develop a

work-finding strategy

“An amazing workshop that helps

people to find themselves and

gives them an overview on how

everything is changing.”

–Mozamane Baloyi

Suitable for all levels of

job-seekers. Corporate

and CSI sponsorships invited.

011 440 1899 | 083 262 5037

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

availability” basis?

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

for them.

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

secretarial services.

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

school holidays.

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.

Offer lessons.

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

format online.

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

to remember.

— Anne Sullivan,

teacher to Helen Keller

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

september sample | content 2019


Here’s how you can help

unemployed people

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.


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

Let’s talk about

The Foreigners

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

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


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

humanitarian crises.

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

sustained. n


So you’re from



Yes, we are

How often

do you come here?

Sometimes, always,

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

their homeland?

• 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

or floods)

• 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

do it?

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


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

A migrant’s tale

by Spencer Chatora | spencer.chatora@gmail.com

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

cashier ...

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


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

such bureaucracy.

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

from it.

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


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

How can South Africans help

the foreigners in our midst?

by Spencer Chatora | spencer.chatora@gmail.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

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

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

from abroad.

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

awareness of:

victimisation and reprisals. n


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

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

that community.

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content




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

South Africa.

For many black people,

the question “How are you?

(Kunjani? / O kae?)” is the

only respectful way to start

a conversation.

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

one another.

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.


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


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.



southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


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.


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 ...


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content




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.

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


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

working there.

I walked there one day to see if

they were back, but there was

nobody there.

Photo: Mélina Huet. Assistant: Nkosazana Teyise



southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


for Change!

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.

* https://www.csir.co.za/sites/default/files/Documents/Policy%20Brief_Informal%20Sector_CSIR%20final.pdf

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


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.


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

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

the top.

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

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

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


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

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!

southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content


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.

Free food

Photo: Natalia Fogarty


southafrican CONVERSATiONS

sample content

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 –

selling this


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.






the divide

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.

0860 333 034 | www.southafricanconversations.co.za



101 WAYS



WIN a Book

Here’s what

we can do

as individuals,

families, communities

and businesses

to create the

kind of world

we all want

to live in.

Challenging the divide

Buy ONLY from sellers wearing South African Conversations branded clothing.


(incl. VAT)

R25 goes to the seller

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!