Fisher’s sweeping statement
I USUALLY read Ryland Fisher’s articles and agree with his viewpoint. However, after seeing CM Mathey’s letter, “Money Talks” (Weekend Argus, June 10) referring to Fisher’s column published on May 27, I reread this column. Although I don’t necessarily agree with Mathey’s views, Fisher does make a rather sweeping statement that all white people benefited from the apartheid era so are all rich (although he does acknowledge that there are now black people in the same bracket), which I feel cannot go unchallenged.
I would’ve thought someone as knowledgeable as Fisher would have heard about a group of people called the “poor whites”. Despite having all the resources available to them during the apartheid era, unfortunately this group did not have the capacity to take advantage of this.
There were other white people who also did not have an easy life in the apartheid years, but chose to make the best of it for themselves. My mother came from a broken home and was forced to find work when she completed what was then called standard 7; she married late in life but not long after I was born, found herself a widow struggling to make ends meet.
We lived in a rent-controlled flat and sub-let to a boarder, so I never had my own room nor the material goods my friends had. We had no car and used public transport, but there was always food on the table and I had clothes to wear. Despite this situation, my mother still tried to give something to those she found less fortunate than herself when she could.
I could not afford to go to university and although I probably could have qualified for a bursary, it was time for me to take some of the burden off my mother and pay my own way, so I chose a profession where I could work and study while being paid – medical technology. This turned out well for me as I loved my work and had a successful career and so managed to buy and do some of the things my mother never could.
I admit that I probably had some advantages – I wasn’t forcibly removed from my home and had access to places denied to others (although not all were accessible to public transport).
However, I was fortunate enough to still remember a bit from the preapartheid era and in that my career choice exposed me to all races and religions, so I was staunchly antiapartheid, and it was one of my happiest days when we entered into the new South Africa.
I know there are others with similar stories to mine, so I just wanted to tell Fisher that maybe he needs to brush up a bit on his local history.