We know too little outside our centre of gaze that we see nothing beyond our direct line of sight.
We maintain a colonised perspective of poverty, of wealth, of what good living is. In our eyes, it is monetary.
in a taxi to Krugersdorp from Pretoria this week, I sat next to a man, and what the driver said to him has stuck with me.
The man had been in another taxi from Limpopo for well over four hours before arriving at Bosman taxi rank, en route to some shanty town somewhere in the west of Johannesburg.
The driver noticed a duffel bag full of groceries, sugar and tea bags peaking out. There was no sign that the groceries had come from a store, and I assumed the driver knew his passengers well enough when he started speaking.
He asked whose bag it was. When the man responded, the driver said: “Why would you go home to the village, take groceries from the old people and bring them with you to Joburg? What are they going to eat back home?”
You see, the assumption in the driver’s rhetorical line of questioning was that our people back in the villages are hungry and that we go home to feed them, not the other way around.
But I have found, in my experience, that some of us go to the villages to reconnect with our people who are more connected to nature. To get some air and perspective. Not necessarily to be the default breadwinners.
You can call me naive or in denial of the status quo but I’d rather you call me a man without blinders on his eyes. A man who is eager to know more outside his centre of gaze, to see more beyond his direct line of sight. Or simply an optimist.
You see, there could be many other reasons why the man had those groceries in his duffel bag. It was not necessarily that he had taken food away from his poor people in the village.
My Love and I started a Makro grocery stokvel with a few close friends and family recently. And therefore, I am aware that people can pool resources and share groceries, especially during this time of the year when capitalism came to strip our pockets, violate our finances and render us victims of Black Friday and a white Christmas.
We maintain a warped perspective of poverty, of wealth, of what good living is. Perhaps “good living” is too subjective a phrase. But it is hardly about self, and all being well with your soul–an inside job of sorts. It is mostly outward about what tangible belongings you possess. When do we detach from attachments?
But yes, to answer your question, the taxi driver was right. The man did cite to me the troublesome month of January as his reason for bringing groceries from his people in the village.