I have to address some of the hundreds of Facebook comments made about the opinion I wrote last week.
I spoke about how it seems to me that coloured people are destroying themselves slowly by letting the killings and social rot go unchallenged.
I addressed the desensitisation that has happened from years of apathy, helplessness and despair at our predicament, leading to whole communities now actually enabling the status quo.
I also expressed concern for how we are at the point where hope itself is being threatened, through the wanton destruction of schools, libraries and parks.
I ended by cautioning that when all hope is lost, then there will be nothing to rescue and all children on the Cape Flats will be doomed.
The comments and responses have ranged from the ridiculous to the insightful.
Let’s start with the argument that government is to blame for the terrible social ills that plague the Cape Flats and that they don’t care enough to tackle it once and for all.
Whether there’s any truth in that or not is really irrelevant.
What matters is that we are the ones living with it day in and day out.
We are living under siege; gangsters are mowing down our neighbours daily, whole generations are lost to drug addiction and our communities and homes are nowhere near the safe havens that they ought to be.
One of the most observant Facebook comments came from Siphamandla Siloqo, who said that while people blame government, they don’t do much them selves to keep their communities safe.
“You know your boy is not working, but he brings home money and food. Where did he get it from?” he asks.
A few people chose to criticise me for using the word coloured to describe us, arguing that it is an offensive apartheid identity that should be discarded; a word that we should unshackle ourselves from.
I don’t share the thinking of those who want to make such cosmetic changes, believing that it will somehow magically result in the fundamental changes necessary to inspire greatness in our children; the sort of changes that puts all of us on a course of wanting to be the very best we can be.
I believe that words are just words and that it is, in fact, the intent of the user that matters most.
And even if it is used to insult, it shouldn’t matter if we know our worth.
But we can only get there if we take collective accountability for what has been happening, and collective responsibility for the changes that are necessary.
Many say they see the situation as hopeless, while some want extreme measures to be taken (like reinstating the death penalty), but there were many still who agreed with what I had to say and made valuable contributions to the discourse.
Reader Labronne believes the change needs to start at home, with parents, saying: “We are what is wrong with these kids. We have lost it. These killers are raised by us, and we keep protecting them.”
Another reader, Noel Hulme, commented: “The people will bring a halt to the lawlessness when they themselves take back their neighbourhoods from the thugs, street by street.”
And that was really my point.
I am hoping to motivate a collective uprising against the crime, starting in people’s homes, and with the parents of the criminals.
Lastly, let me address those who accuse the Daily Voice of crystallizing hatred against coloureds by only ever “painting the Cape Flats as a gangster’s paradise”.
Your anger is misplaced.
We don’t create the violence, we only reflect it.
Perhaps your discomfort comes from seeing yourself and the role you play in facilitating the violence, in that reflection.
This accusation fits with comments accusing me of generalising and pointing out that violence is not ingrained solely in coloureds or the Cape Flats.
Yes, of course I was generalising, but that’s because I lack the time and newspaper space to explore all the variables to address every single exception.
My commentary was meant to highlight the general issues, stimulate debate, spark some critical thought and hopefully drop one or two nuggets of wisdom.
But, also, if the shoe fits…