Al Jazeera reports that many poor South Africans are forced to scavenge in rubbish dumps in order to survive. I have witnessed this on several occasions when I went to one of these facilities to leave off garden refuge.
It is a heartbreaking sight. But it is not new. I remember seeing the same scenes when I was just a boy in the early 70s.
The vast majority of adults and children who sort through rubbish are Black. Their lives have hardly changed in the years since apartheid was legally scrapped. What persists are structural conditions that closely resemble those of Dalits in Indian.
I want to think through the implications of such a comparison here. The purpose of course is not to remind anyone in the West to be reflective of their good fortune or to solicit gestures of pity/sympathy.
What follows is the Al Jazeera report on 'manual scavengers' in South Africa that was first broadcast on November 3, 2007.
We live in a troubled world that betrays the Washington Consensus that both South Africa and India naively favour. Neo-liberalism, with its trickle-down assumptions, has hardly shifted the social markers of underdevelopment in terms that illustrate a humanitarian, or human rights, agenda.
The poor remain trapped in poverty even while the power elite sing the praises of redemptive markets and globalization.
Makes me wonder what happened to The Freedom Charter and our peoples revolution.