Tag Archives: wealth

Leisure

Sometimes the wealthy are proud to refer to themselves as a man or woman of leisure. In a way, leisure is the fulfilment and culmination of wealth; in the absence of a higher or lower purpose.

This December was the first time in about 12 years that I did not spend my festive season in Manica, Mozambique. Manica is nota tourist town at the coast, and when I’m there I try to serve- the place is not geared for my pampering. 2014’s end saw me go to holiday spots. I’m inclined to say white holiday spots since despite the fact that 90% of our country consists of black people, only 10% of the ‘holiday goers’ were black. This is a persistent legacy of apartheid: white leisure.

On Port Alfred’s Royal golf course I spoke to an old Afrikaner and when he heard what I do for a job he said: “Do you still have hope for this bloody country?!” to which I replied: “Oom, as mens nie hoop het nie moet jy maar trek.” The uncle was complaining about the country, but he is substantially unaffected by any of the things he complains about. He ended our chat with a “let’s not talk politics, I’m supposed to enjoy my retirement.” A man of leisure.

To be clear, I was part of the white holiday vibe. I spent endless ZAR’s on myself and my biological family, justified by the notion that for 10 years I spent all my December cash on Manicans. The justification only numbs half of my conscience though…

Driving through the Karoo, I stopped at a farm stall and was talked into buying half a lamb. Great meat at a cheaper price. The Afrikaner lady explained all the different pieces of meat to me and to bags consisted of weird things like bones, chunks of fat and kidneys. She asked me if I have dogs to which I replied “no”. So she said, in Afrikaans, in front of other customers which included black people: “gee dit dan maar vir die bediende”. This little anecdote first shocked me and then made me think of reality: The majority of domestics would in fact even buy those pieces of meat, and some whites would indeed give it to their dogs. All the while the Umlungu (or very wealthy blacks) would nibble on the premium chops, steak and ribs. Meat of leisure vs meat for sustenance.

Don’t get me wrong: I loved my holiday. I too was raised as a son of leisure. Not because we went on fancy holidays as kids (in fact we didn’t), but because I grew up expecting and anticipating these ‘finer’ things in life. 2014’s holiday was an indulgence for me and I used my girl and family as a rationale for feeling less selfish about it all. Something can indeed be wrong and right at the same time. #greytruth

Our country is in shit, the irony is that the only ones complaining are the ones that don’t need to complain! Complaining whilst playing golf, driving a Mercedes, sitting in a holiday home (yes there are such things!). And the millions sitting in badly built shacks waits for a dream that wont show up. The wealthy enjoy their perpetual leisure, but they also perpetuate their wealth by working hard and sharpening their skills. After their December ‘rest’ they will hit the marketplace hard and build up more resources to enjoy at the end of the next calendar year. The poor remains trapped. Their leisure is not built up over the year. The leisure of the poor is short term: cheap dring in cheap places.

Before we blame the rich white people for their sophisticated leisure, be sure the poor don’t save the whole year to invest in the community, books, children’s education or missions trips. The majority of poor men uses their extra Rands to sit and dring and talk shit. More money and the leisure becomes more sohisticated: instead of papsak it’s bottles of beer, instead of beer it becomes Jack Daniels, instead of alcohol it becomes shoes, instead of shoes it’s cars…

Mzansi: we are united in an endless pursuit of selfish leisure.

You can blame…

You can complain…

Instead of pointing fingers, we should rather ask ourselves a simple personal question. A personal question that will shatter our generalisations and philosophical arguing and justifications:

Will you present and lay your leisure- not in front of the Christmas Tree, but in front of the Tree with a Man hanging on it?

And what would He say?

“Wie is die ONS in die ‘Ons vir jou Suid Afrika'”?

Other Side of the World – Same Story

I flew via Dubai to Kuala Lumpur for a ‘Sport for Good’ summit. I wont get into the merits of non-profits flying across the globe to inspire and share, but rather reflect on what I saw in Malaysia, how blatant it was and how similar it was. The inequality in Malaysia can easily be blamed on British colonialism. But reality shows that cash is king and the rich don’t give a shit about the poor. In Malaysia…

As an Afrikaner I do not live a week where I am not confronted with stories about the evil of apartheid and how bad our selfishness was and how it lacked moral integrity. I agree fully with those remarks of course and I am dedicated to play my small part in ‘paying back’. But whilst I am 100% anti-apartheid and 100% pro-equality I always have a funny feeling when people talk about such things. Being far from home in Malaysia, I realised and managed to articulate what I have seen and felt in South Africa. Sweeping statements and generalisations make us stupid and shallow. There are always a narrative and a counter narrative. When my white friends say blacks will always be stupid, I try to provide a counter narrative with stories to illuminate. When my black friends say all whites are fake and no white can be trusted, I try to provide a counter narrative.

My father was a white farmer, born during apartheid and farmed during apartheid. Yes his workers were black, yes they were extremely poor compared to my dad, yes they could not vote. All of that is bad and unfortunate. I want to reflect, however on my dad’s journey. Despite his ‘white privilege’ he had a journey and a battle, like the ‘a luta continua’ of liberation struggles. My grandfather was one on nine kids growing up in a mud house without electricity and they washed their clothes in the river; like a seen from rural Africa – which it was. Knowing where you are is the start of changing things. My family, 80 years back had nothing. My grand dad was a bar man without education. Growing up, my father had meat to eat once a week. They lived a humble lifestyle.

Even as he farmed and became wealthier, he was never ever flashy. My dad never went overseas. He bought his farm on a bank loan, his profits from farming just paid the interest on the loan. As a child we never went on holidays and never stayed in hotels. My dad drove a Nissan 1400 bakkie. Second hand. All our cars were cheap second hand cars. We never owned a new or fancy car like a BMW. The same goes for all my friends. Out of a hundred ‘privileged’ white kids, during apartheid, maybe three had fancy cars like BMW 3-series or Mercedes C Class. A few months ago my dad bought a new car. A Toyota Etios. The cheapest Toyota available and probably the ugliest car on the road. Clearly he sticks to his principles and clearly his ego does not demand the borrowing of money to buy fancy cars to impress people and feel the luxury as you drive.

What I saw in Malaysia reminded me of what I see in Johannesburg. People who in 15 years get what my family had to work for over 80 years. No, I mean surpassing my family and the 15 years is often 5 years and the Nissan 1400 is laughed about and a BMW is now considered ‘normal’. Yet, we love reminiscing about the evils of apartheid… And as new pockets of wealth takes shape, young people learn the vocabulary to rationalise and complain with extra vigour and drama. Yet, the things my parents are accused of, are perpetuated by our democratic millionaires. The problem I think is not one of colour or religion, but one of greed and lust for money, status and luxury. This in a world where 50% of our ‘brothers and sisters’ are starving and suffering.

I used to say the problem is not with making lots of money, but with how you spend it. To a large degree I still feel that way, but I also realise more and more that for one guy to get rich others need to stay poor. If you make money, you are making it from someone. Someone pays for your wealth. You call it smart and hard working. Hitler and Mugabe are also smart and hard working. So please don’t bring an economic knife to a moral gun-fight… The question is not of ability, but of application. You can, but should you? That is the question.

In Kuala Lumpur I paid R60 for a can of Coke. I thought it was crazy since for R60 I am supposed to get 6 litres of Coke, and then the factory, distributor, retailer, etc all still make their money. But the R60 can of Coke soon became ‘normal’ when I saw the cars parked outside our hotel: Two Ferrari F450’s, an Aston Martin and a Rolls-Royce!  Walking in the mall looking at the Cartier, Armani and Louis Vuitton stores I realised the planet has a disease. And for all the evil of apartheid, at least the way I grew up I did not see this perverted addiction to Brands and superfluous luxury. No one argues about the quality of a Mont Blanc pen, the quality of a Hermes jacket or the quality of an Aston Martin. Sure, they are magnificently made. That does not make it right though. At the airport I saw a cell phone for R250 000 and a bottle of Whiskey for R40 000!  Is this extreme and isolated instances of excess? Or is this merely the end result of a game which everyone tries to play? These examples are not anomalies, they are just the toys the people get who are the best at the ‘game’. Don’t play innocent or pseudo moral because you don’t buy those extremes, its probably only because you cant. Everyone seems to buy as much as they can. Where you are now, what TV did you buy, what kettle, what laptop, what car, what house, what clothes? We are all in the game… And it takes the winners of the game to reveal the stupidity, desperation and moral bankruptcy of the game.

So don’t come and talk to me about apartheid if you don’t give a fuck about the poor yourself. Don’t talk about religion and democracy if you are a selfish consumer living for yourself and your biological family. For every ass in a Ferrari or Porsche, there are 200 kids not going to creche or not having food. Does it feel that good to drive it?

Do I judge? Yes I judge. I judge myself to my own standards, but I surely also judge people who drive cars costing R1m or $100 000 and those who shop at the fucking baby Ralph Lauren shop. The little baby clones that will fit in their outfits for 6 months was perhaps what drove me over the edge.

So, let’s then just be honest and say together: FUCK THE POOR

– the pictures I took this week will excite or embarrass you.

You will look at them and say either WOW or WHY?

The very last picture shows us what we are sacrificing to have these nice things.

jw

rolls

aston martin

kid perversion

family