Yeoville wake-up, not just for whitey
ABLEND of chance and accident gave me a strange Saturday night, criss-crossing town and climbing the learning curve of life. At nightfall, Greenside was crowded. Mostly young, boisterous, no dramas. Co-operative road, cars allowing others to enter the stream or offload passengers. People-wise, a mingled range of faces, every hue. Nice vibe.
Thence to Yeoville. First compelling thing to notice is crush, people packed like cigarettes in a box.
Then: traffic. Half the robots are broken, which is merciful. Broken ones don’t lull you into false security, like the working one on Hunter and Kenmere. A car with no lights hurtles through the red and caromsmy heart rate into the stratosphere
Jammed intersections are extrajammed by morons entering when there is no exit. Each one delays himself along with everyone else. But – hooray! – he has stopped a driver from the crossstreet getting in front. At one point, a knot of angry hooters wake the suburb in protest at a rude black BMW blocking the road while it wages a shouted war with the pavement.
The next most notable thing is complexions. I can remember Yeoville as a modest Jewish suburb, part of a famous definition of chutzpah – “going from Yeoville to Bryanston without passing through Emmarentia on the way”. Now, no pale faces in sight.
Third thing: mess. The random junk, packets and tins and disembodied newspaper pages already look and feel slapgat. The piles of builder’s rubble and half-dug paving stones make it worse.
Three hours later, I do the same circuit a second time. Greenside is much as it was before. The people look the same, the streets look the same, there’s been a bit of thinning out. Is there a higher rate of cowboyism behind the steering wheel? It’s arguable.
Thence to Yeoville, and three compelling things to notice: (a), everyone in sight is patently drunk; (b) hardly anyone is in sight. Aside from one pumping noisy square the place is Ghost Town; (c) it’s filthy. In fact, filthy in bold italic capitals: FILTHY.
The gentle scruffiness of earlier has turned into world-beating champion shambolic filth. Wastebin Street, the skill and science of making your environment a rubbish tip. I feel bile rise. What a symbol of slithering into ruin. How can anyone do this to themselves and their city? Which is also my city. Which presents some questions. Like: how do responsible Joburgers exercise good citizenship in our changing society? We know the standard way. The pale ones say, “this is Africa, I’m only white, I must shut up or someone will call me a racist. I wish I qualified for Australia”. The dark ones say, “I’m disgraced. I must shut up or I’ll be accused of trying to be white. I wish I qualified for Australia.”
These responses, good reader, are junk. There is a fine technical term but if I used it here The Star would apply little twee asterisks. It relates to bovine organic waste.
I have muttered before about the lunacy of the whiteys switching off and tuning out. It’s our country too, white people. You, each as one South African, have no whit less a right, a voice, a view, than any other South African.
And black people who stand for progress, decency, order, for humanness before race obsession? It’s getting urgent for you to stake your claim, too.
We go forward not by finding a “them” to blame. We go forward by thinking and acting “our”. When our society is going wrong we do our bit to steer it right.