Many foreigners were left homeless after their shacks were burnt down by angry protesters in Marabastad, Pretoria, this week. File picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
MEET Freedom, a troubled family; the youngest in a village of 54 households. Built in 1994 on a vision of constitutional democracy and forgiveness, the Freedom household is in distress. 

Its sons are raping and murdering their daughters, wives, girlfriends and sisters daily. To resolve squabbles and disputes with visiting children from their neighbouring households, the young men in the Freedom household have resorted to burning people and their shops; accusing them of selling drugs and stealing their jobs and women. 

Strangely, the only visitors being targeted by the sons of the Freedom household are those that look like them. Apart from the language they speak or the households from which they originate, they are probably their brothers, sisters or cousins. Yet, the sons of Freedom have been known over the past decade or so to sporadically attack their visiting neighbours on a whim, using police vans to tie and drag some of them or setting others alight, even looting their shops.

The head of the Freedom household this week hosted a party in his fancy lounge, to discuss economic matters of the village. This party is held annually in preparation for a bigger fancier party for the rulers of the world in Switzerland. Villagers and neighbours of the Freedom household commonly look forward to it, but this year, some pulled out at the last minute. Another even cancelled a soccer date with the sons of the Freedom household.

The beleaguered head of the Freedom household has had his hands full since taking over at that Nasrec 2017 bosberaad. He has been fighting fires, from missing public funds to looming downgrades from Moody credit rating agencies. His education is not delivering work-ready children. Most of his children cannot afford medication when they are ill. Their richer siblings do not want to help. They fear that their contributions will suffer the same fate as the Nestum, Purity and other children’s food stolen by the corrupt powerful members of the family since 1994, even though some of them were abetting the theft.

So, the head of the Freedom household has a conundrum. With his neighbours beginning to snub his parties and play dates, how can he rekindle in his family? His team has been convening family summits and formulating policies, but he is running out of time and credibility.

His neighbours’ children are looting and burning the shops owned by his children in retaliation. The reason this beautiful African dream became a nightmare is simple: elite members of the Freedom household neglected most of their children and siblings for too long. They hoarded the family books, medicine chest and piggy bank.

When a family of 55 children lavishes all its resources and attention on five powerful siblings, like the Freedom household did, it turns the children of the other 50 into a resentful force of destruction. Economic distress makes people hate fellow human beings. They blame others for their misfortune; venting their frustration on the defenceless.

The Freedom household must re-imagine its destiny, rediscover its African character - and urgently innovate to create an inclusive economy.

* Victor Kgomoeswana is author of Africa is Open for Business; a media commentator and public speaker on African business affairs.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.