Initially, i began writing this as an introduction to a social project i was proposing to the new mayor of Knysna in South Africa, the DA’s (Democratic Alliance) Georlene Wolmarans. Instead, it grew into a evaluation of the poor state of Knysna and a mission statement for change (we are a society divided by colour, economics and abusers of power) for The Keep. The mayor never saw me despite her electioneering “open door” policy. It added to my recent, negative experience with Shaun van Eck, the CEO of Knysna Tourism. I will write about both these people over the next week. Right now, this holds true. Hope you read it and share. Maybe people from other countries can find some value in it too.
CONQUERING THE KNYSNA UNDYNAMIC
& SOCIAL EXCLUSION
THROUGH ARTS, SPORT & EDUCATION
MAKING A DIFFERENCE!
Knysna, one of the most beautiful towns in the world, is wounded.
Knysna is not represented by all of its citizens. Instead, it is a community of metaphorical islands, an archipelago separated by social, racial and economic classes. Central town, Belvidere and the literal islands of Thesen and Leisure, are mostly occupied by whites. Division continues in the northern suburbs with coloureds occupying Hornlee and blacks Khayalethu and Concordia. There are exceptions but generalization holds more truth than not. Suburbs, that would once have been called “locations” or “townships”, remain marginalized so that their residents are more citizens of that location than citizens of Knysna itself, an apartheid enforced not by racism but by misconception, unequal economics and development. From division derives an “us and them” mentality that prevents cultural understanding and a harmonious Knysna.
I do not believe in the status quo. It encourages an “aloneness” that has already devolved into apathy. I fear apathy…i hate it…for it is the greatest threat to us all. And the greatest fools are the willing victims.
I believe that change is always possible if we are willing. I am willing. Are you willing too?
I am only one human being. Nevertheless, i can make a difference. BUT it is nothing compared to the difference WE could make! I seek similar minds. I seek believers in “ubuntu”, that African concept that could be interpreted as: What happens to one affects us all. We should treat one another with kindness (as we would wish to be treated). It is a simple and beautiful idea that we can choose for our lives. Considering the beast that is this Recession, it is practical and necessary.
Furthermore, the world is not going to become easier. Knysna is not going to miraculously become easier. We are a tourist based economy so increasing wars and civil unrest in distant lands will affect us. Food and oil prices continue rising. The dollar is stumbling..and, if it falls, it will fall on us. There are things beyond our control but there are things within our reach too. I have gotten tired of hearing people say that things will get better! Desperation edges some of their voices. It was a tough December in 2009 so they said April (Pink Loerie) would be better. And, when that never happened, they said July (Oyster)…and then December again…and so forth. It didn’t get better! How many businesses have closed and continue to do so? How many retirements have devolved into bonded houses? How many alcoholics do we possess? Tik has jumped from Hornlee to somewhere nearer the homes of It will get better! Crime is marching more triumphantly than the Pink parade. And all that happened whilst we sat on our arses instead of working together. We can’t wait for the rainbow and its pot of gold. We have to dig for it!
This discourse promotes the concept of “One Knysna, Our Knysna”. It offers the root of a plan that hopes to become a tree. And trees need many roots. This means not only participants but conversation, debate and input…and with none of those equating to importance if they do not beget action.
Please give this root water…
- Collective work effort.
Integrate excluded communities through projects with them as citizens of Knysna. Build better relationship between the poor and the government, the poor and those who have more, and through discussions and activities aimed at general understanding seeking togetherness so that Knysna becomes one community. There will be an emphasis on the development of children. Arts, sport, charity and education are at the heart of this process of integration. Culture can be linked to all but let’s emphasize that it is about history teaching us lessons, and pride in who we are, rather than a means to subtract us from others.
- Promotion of hope, dreaming and optimism.
- Provision of goals and rewards for achieving.
- Community driven development via the mobilization of community volunteers.
- Community integration through united teams & activities.
- Fostering of leadership.
- Positive media presentation of disadvantaged areas e.g. less money does not mean children do not play and laugh.
- Increase knowledge of the circumstances and living areas of others via participant exchanges.
- Consolidate community-based organizations (schools, charities) and businesses into representative organizations seeking dialogue with the authorities and sponsors.
- Develop collective resources aimed at sharing knowledge and wisdom.
- Monitor charities so as to be educated on the state and needs of the community.
- Monitor government spending on social programs, offering alternatives for discussion.
- Promote projects seeking legacy, footprints into the future.
As a starting point, the role of arts, sport, charity and education can be further defined by our intent. They play a significant role in human development, providing not only joy but a means to unity through sharing, especially after division. They encourage expression, the precursor to identification and understanding. They promote empowerment. They are a foundation for our growth as the community of Knysna.
Projects will be submitted with a request for support. They are not inclusive. They are part of a greater plan that will grow and adjust with input from interested parties. They will address social exclusion/inequality, creative exchange, educational workshops and small business development.
Let us work harder than ever before. Let us work together.
Yours in ubuntu…