Lost kids on Mandela Day
Does our society care more about tax than poor kids, wonders Marlon Abrahams.
(Jade Photography)
We’ve got it good, don’t we? Does it matter that we worked our butts off to get where we are? Does it matter that some of us rose above our poverty-stricken, humble beginnings to now enjoy relative comfort. Mandela Day was last week, and Maddi was part of a group of do-gooders who went to Diepsloot squatter camp (I find the government’s politically correct “Informal Settlement” too pretentious to use) to hand out food and clothing to the wretched souls who find themselves living there.

Evading tax, evading society’s obligations

Before I continue, let me draw your attention to an article which made news headlines as well – “A new study says the world’s super rich are hiding close to a whopping $32 trillion of financial assets in offshore tax havens, resulting in as much as $280 billion in lost income tax revenues. This global glut of wealth—not even counting gold, real estate, yachts, and other “non-financial” assets—is roughly the size of the Japanese and U.S. GDPs combined.”

Adults in kid’s clothing

On to Diepsloot (the sprawling shithole not too far from Fourways). Maddi was manning one of the food stations, handing out bowls of hot soup to little kids on an early winter morning in the biting Highveld cold. At first she thought the other little kids cute and found the whole thing funny. Then she noticed something (which she articulated to me later). The little kids, aged 6, just like her, were not actually eating the soup right away. Instead, they accepted the meal with gratitude and solemn faces before using it to feed their younger siblings, 2 and 3-year-old snot-nosed critters.

She quickly realised that these “little kids” were actually taking care and being responsible for their little brothers and sisters because no one else was available to do it for whatever reason. The look in these kid’s eyes was the weariness of having to forgo childhood in order to take responsibility for the well-being of another little human being. It was also very clear that the “adult supervision” meted out be the 6-year-old’s was not the daily exception, but indeed, the norm.

Maddi did not dwell on the reasons why the kid’s parents were not looking after them or where they were, instead she went into overdrive, buzzing around the food stand making sure everyone got something to eat. Naturally my thoughts went to my Rhino-loving readers and I could not help thinking how well a hearty Rhino stew would go down in Diepsloot.

Wealthy and opinionated vs. poor and silent

We’re a strange bunch aren’t we? Hoarding money we can’t take with us after we die, or even put to any good use anymore ‘cos we already have everything. I guess those hoarders are probably of the same ilk as those who made the comments on my column of “children not being endangered, or that the world could do with fewer children.” Well I’d like to challenge you lot to spend a few hours in Diepsloot- see how you like them apples.
So well done to Tata Madeebs, what can I say about you that has not been said before, except that the spirit of what you have tried to teach us is alive and well despite overwhelming pig-headed stupidity.

Read more by Marlon Abrahams

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