Early March, I set off on a business trip to Cape Town. My first trip to South Africa – continent of my far-distant ancestors. Cape Town is a stunning city, set near the southern tip of the African continent, it has beautiful beaches and a truly amazing back drop – Table Mountain. I was there to host my customer at my company’s annual global business partner conference.
Boat at the Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa
Brightly coloured houses
City Street, Cape Town (Can you see the hot pink house on the hill?)
How, you may ask, with all my costs paid, a beautiful hotel, activities and site seeing provided, could I not have a good time?
Well, I guess embarrassingly, I sort of did have a good time. Mostly. But I was disturbed by the stark contrast between my luxury accommodation, food & pampering and the local people’s living conditions. Here we were, spending what I can only assume was several hundred thousand dollars on “business”, and there were hundreds of thousands living in shanty towns. I wouldn’t even call them houses – more like tin sheds. These “homes” butted up to the freeway and ran back to the horizon. And there was kilometer after kilometer of them – running right through to the horizon. Children were playing soccer on the side of the freeway. I felt sick when I saw how these people lived, especially when compared to our situation whilst in town.
Our guided tour of Cape Town took us through some of the more exclusive “white” areas of town, where, we were told, houses cost around 65 million Rand! And then 10 km from the city, people lived in utter poverty.
I still shake my head at this, and am ashamed to be part of it all. I have had many comments from friend and colleagues as I lamented over the experience – “at least you were helping the locals by bringing tourist money in”. Phah. The bulk of the money we brought in was earnt by the wealthy hotel owners and restauranteurs. The “locals” work for low wages and hover around seeking tips from the tourists… not the most soul fulfilling situation for them. Or they work at the markets selling mass produced trinkets to the tourists, likely produced by exploited folk living in the sheds or regional areas.
In mythology, Mammon came to earth and was caught up in the pursuit of wealth and money. He was demonised in the middle ages as the representation of greed, richness and injustice. In fact, as you look around the world, we are continually enslaved by our culture into the desire of money and things which ties us to the capitalistic corporations who better the world – so we can all buy more stuff, have more money and have more things. The governments and leaders create false demons so they can focus the general populous on fear and control the masses.
And, if you ever doubt that governments continually employ tactics to control the masses and drive their own agendas – take a look at this quote from Hermann Goerings during the Nuremberg trials after WWII.
“Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. …Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
Think about this in relation to our situation in Australia. And the US!
Our new (well actually not so new now) enemy.
Now I have digressed a little from my SA trip story – but I guess that’s what happens when you pissed off about the state of the world and the pathetic leadership from the Mammon affected goverements.
So I’m angry, and what I am going to do about it? What can I do? Well that might the subject of another entry…. once I figure out the answer. 😉