The room serves as a bedroom, a lounge, a kitchen and whatever else is needed.
It is blisteringly hot in Summer and almost Arctic cold in Winter. There’s the rain that pours incessantly through various holes in the makeshift roof and gale force winds which blows the roof already held down by nails, and bricks and a prayer. Then there are the floods. The floods that creep through the makeshift foundation and permanently damage the very little furniture there is.
Finally, there’s the very real danger of “shack fires” often not caused by negligence but the necessity of having a stove to cook food and a candle that faintly flickers bringing relief to the darkness.
For many in our country, this is home. A home that may not have running water but that is kept clean and tidy and so the children have their space.
Every morning is an opportunity to escape the shackles that shack dwelling brings. Every morning there’s a relief to finally go outside and breathe.
Its often the reason you see black and brown people outside of their homes, sitting on park benches in suburbia and lying on the grass.
This is the violence and sadness of a society that remained forgotten after Apartheid. They can’t go outside to use the ablution facilities at night, its simply too dangerous especially for vulnerable children.
Today marks the first day of what everyone hopes are only 21-days in confinement for their sake. For their health. For their survival.
Now if everyday life is so challenging for black and brown people living in shacks, how do they survive confinement for 21 days?
Often they would run short of food so they borrow here and there to eat. Too often the children have one meal a day that they are fed at the school they attend. The school that is now shut down.
Black and brown people have been confined to small spaces because of injustice, oppression, and segregation not as is erroneously assumed because they “like that life!”
The children will and often do go hungry and the elderly have forgotten what it is like to have nutritional food.
The tea and bread must serve as sustenance for the entire day until night-time when there’s an opportunity to eat or should I say if.
There’s the army patrolling the streets reminiscent of an era they had hoped would never cross their paths. Black and brown people know the army and police are particularly hard on them. Experience has shown that so they’re not likely to confront and or defy the new restrictions.
Except where is the food going to come from next week, the week after and the week after that?
“We are all in this together,” I hear. I agree except they are worrying about food and suburbia is worrying about how they will walk their dog.
Slave wages is a problem, the greedy capitalist is a problem, corrupt Government is a problem and so is the decided lack of humanity of some people have in that they can calmly look and say, “they brought it on themselves.”
If there is any shred of decency within you, the above words should not pass your lips or even better they should never cross your mind.