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Dear Julius Malema

Dear Julius Malema

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Published by Trevin Hoekzema

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Published by: Trevin Hoekzema on Jul 11, 2011
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07/11/2011

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Dear Mr. Julius Malema³You remember me,´ he requested as he handed me the hand-made clay figure. Iaccepted the parting gift and expressed as best as I could across the language barrier, ³I¶ll be back, Kefentse; I won¶t forget you.´ I broke our focused stare to look out across his city. Iquickly soaked in the moment, mentally recording the shacks, dirt roads, barbed-wire fences, andthe potential of the people. I saw hard-working, determined men and women with nothing butidle time on their hands. I saw dirty children playing in a busy street, ignoring their parent¶sdirect request. I saw trash-filled storm drains and human waste littered around like little landmines. As my eyes drifted from the gaze of my friend, I soon found myself high above hiscountry, staring out an oval window, drifting through the jet stream. Then I was back inAmerica, surrounded by cars, concrete, and consumerism. The comforts of home tried to pushthe memories out of my mind, but I held strong.Those images in South Africa were characteristics of a poverty-stricken nation, productsof apartheid, and will forever be ingrained in my mind. As many people know, apartheid was amethod of institutionalized segregation that was abolished in 1994. During its reign, it required blacks to live in the townships where I met Kefentse. I spent six weeks last summer serving the people of two townships, Kayamandi and Enkhanini, located in the Western Cape of SouthAfrica. From the six months leading up to the trip until now, I have been researching andfollowing South African politics and trends. Through my readings, experiences, andconversations with South Africans, I realized the cause for the level of poverty and income gapwere certainly due to apartheid. There are very few that would disagree with this statement. Butindividuals such as Julius Malema, ANC youth president, would disagree with the claim that thecontinued growth in the poverty rate and widening income gap is due to the replacement of 
 
apartheid with corruption. It¶s because of apartheid that Kefentse was born in a shack, but it is because of corruption that he still lives in one.Mr. Malema has been in the limelight of South African, and sometimes world, media.His actions reflect the characteristics of a corrupt, communist leader. His comments sometimescontradict his actions and he is unable to defend himself. One incidence of this was seen in April2010 when he, ³publically humiliated and removed a BBC reporter from a press conference after accusing him of µwhite tendency¶ and calling him a µbastard¶, µbloody agent¶ and µsmall boy¶´(Hyde-Clark, 3). Malema lost much of his credibility at this time towards being a future leader in South Africa, if there was any left to lose. His comments toward the white journalist onlyreinforced the racial tension that currently grips the country. Yet despite his decreasingcredibility, the black youth of the country, my friend included, look up to him and model hisactions.To elaborate, at a recent ANC rally, 25,000 young adults showed up in support of theANC. Malema arrived late and commented on some of the officials in power using their positionto benefit friends and family in a corrupt manner. This statement was well received by manygroups, but it was a statement of hypocrisy. Julius Malema has been cited as having, ³amassedassets of over R4-million thanks to lucrative government contracts´ (classicmalema.co.za). Inthis thought process, Malema encourages corruption for personal gain, not for assisting family or friends. As youth leader of the most influential political party in South Africa, Julius has manyfollowers. It is estimated that at least half of the 25,000 people that showed up to the rally were part of the ANC youth league (Malefane, 2011). Malema is well aware that he is a role modelfor many of the young adults in South Africa, yet he continues to act in a way that is not upliftingfor society.
 
As I read all of these recent and past articles on Malema¶s corrupt actions, I can¶t help butremember my friend. The clay figure he gave me stares at me as I write this essay, resemblingthe gaze that my friend and I shared back in South Africa. The memories come flooding back. Iremember his burning smile, somehow unbroken by the poverty and discrimination. I remember the surrounding landscape, beautiful and blotted with dark, rusted shack roofs. I break thefocused stare with the clay figure and decide to dedicate the rest of this essay to Kefentse in theform of a letter to Julius Malema.Dear Mr. Julius Malema:I spent six weeks in your country last summer. From the pictures and outwardappearance given off by the presence of FIFA, I would have assumed your country was in a stateof economic excellence. The streets of Cape Town were clean and the countryside was beautiful. People seemed to be happy; the police officers and traffic officials were kind andhelpful. Students in Stellenbosch were in love with their surroundings, and I almost fell in loveas well. Fortunately, I did not travel to your country for the site seeing and World Cup. I cameto serve with an organization called Serve the City, and if I had not heavily researched thehistory and current politics of South Africa, the townships would have caught me by surprise tosay the least.My new friend, Kefentse, lives in a shack in Enkhanini, a township next to Kayamandi,Stellenbosch. He works a very low-wage job, making just enough money to buy food and payfor a cell phone bill. My research and friends from South Africa tell me that you sometimes findyourself in the townships while driving your Mercedes-Benz. I was wondering if you have takenthe time to get to know the people in those townships, especially those in Enkhanini. Many of 

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