I may not have grown up with a silver spoon but I grew up with a spoon nonetheless. On paper, I have lived a VERY privileged life thanks to the contributions of my parents, siblings, family, family friends, knowledge of opportunities, and the courage to take them. I am grateful for what I have, both materialistically and conceptually. But most importantly, I am eternally grateful that I was taught to think and have an unquenchable desire to explore.
However, I choose to write this post today because I feel uneasy, perturbed, and gut wrenchingly sad. Why? because I am an idealist, and in my ideal world, South(ern) Africa would not be plagued and driven by frivolous materialistic desires.
This rant is brought on by my watching the 3rd Degree episode on the Izikhotane. A group of South African youth from the townships obsessed with one-uping each other through materialistic signifiers. I was not only provoked by their, for a lack of better terminology, stupid behavior, I was also annoyed by people’s reaction to it. Reading the twitter responses to this episode, I was baffled by people believing that this phenomenon was not their problem, or that they were far removed from the situation.
Middle to upper middle class South(ern) Africa is caught up in the same bullshit. Honestly, we can substitute Caravelas with Jordans, ripping money with making it rain, and Ultramel with the bottles of Moet we have suddenly acquired a palate for.
No part of me dislikes wealth, and the ability to spend money nonchalantly. I too dream of the day I don’t have to look at the price tag to buy a t-shirt I like, when I can ride around in my black Mercedes SLR, and when I don’t have to think twice about a vacation to the Maldives; but to what (or whose) expense?
Just like the kids in the Izokhotane episode, I question where the middle and above classes of South African youth get the money to afford such a lifestyle? I cannot take any person seriously who brags about their luxurious lifestyle if 50% or more is funded by their parents, or banks’ generous allowance for debt. More importantly, I silently weep for those who without thought, without intellectual capital, and with YOLOing tendencies, actively pursue such.
And while I’m at it, can we eliminate terms like yellow bone from our lexicon, sport less weaves, tone down the number of labels we wear, shun ignorance, and stop acquiring so called “haters” to deem your worth?
Let’s invest in ourselves, but in things that will pay us forward, like above par education, decent public services, innovation, ownership of our intellectual property, and a greater understanding of our cultural worth.
I say let’s indulge in life’s pleasures, but only after our foundation is strong.