On the devastating effects of…

On the devastating effects of the extremes of wealth and poverty and low levels of social justice

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“I grew up thinking that it was a good thing to rob the white man. Everyone fought injustice in their own way. But in my neighborhood, we opposed the government by breaking into houses and robbing people. But in 1994 we were told: ‘Democracy is coming. Apartheid is ending. It’s time to learn a trade.’ So I listened. I did everything I was supposed to do. I’ve worked in construction for the past twenty-five years. I started my own company. I followed all the procedures. But nothing has come of it. The government always talks about empowerment. They make a big show of letting small businesses compete for contracts. But the jobs always get awarded to the same few people. If the government gave me work, it would empower me. Then I could empower other people. I could hire employees and teach them plumbing, and carpentry, and cabinets. I could purchase a brick making machine, and hire women to mix cement. But right now I can’t even afford a printer for my office. Everything is hand to mouth. I had high hopes when apartheid ended. But I’ve been building houses for twenty-five years, and I’m still living in a shack.” (Johannesburg, South Africa)

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