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of a small clay figure, simple in design yet complex in both meaning and history. As my gaze goes gray, I am sucked into the world the clay once called home. The clay was walked on daily by nearly 3,000 men, women, and children; acted as the foundation for over 500 shacks; and was molded by one boy into a powerful, smiling face. Smiling because it is a reflection of the creator, powerful because it has drastically changed my life. Before the small piece of clay landed on my desk, it lived a full life in Enkhanini, South Africa where I spent six weeks last summer. The sculptor of the infamous clay figure¶s name is Kefentse. ³You remember me,´ he requested when he handed me the hand-made clay figure. I accepted his parting gift, choking back a potential waterfall of tears, and expressed as best as I could across the language barrier, ³I¶ll be back, Kefentse; I won¶t forget you.´ When I broke our focused stare to look out across his city, I quickly soaked in the moment, mentally recording the shacks, dirt roads, barbed-wire fences, and the potential of the people in his community. I saw hard-working, determined men and women with restless, idle time on their hands. I saw dirty children playing in a busy street, ignoring their parent¶s direct request. I saw trash-filled storm drains and human waste littered around like little land mines. As the memories fade before my eyes, the grey goes white and I wake with a start.
Hoekzema 2 Kefentse had no idea how much of an impact he would have on my life. His simple yet equally complex gift and request were a reflection of his and his community¶s economic, political, and personal situations as poor, displaced citizens in South Africa. Their unfortunate dilemma has been caused mostly by apartheid, a form of racial segregation in South Africa created in 1961 and abolished in 1994. As many people are fully aware, 1961 was the mark of South Africa¶s declaration as a republic. This event solidified the apartheid regime, forcing laws and regulations on the majority blacks in SA. The minority white rule deemed themselves superior, requiring all blacks to live in their ³homeland´ which were actually the townships. These townships housed anywhere from a couple hundred to tens of thousands of blacks- all required to live on very low wages with no education, no electricity, and no water. Although petitions, squatter movements, and strikes within and outside of SA opposed the republic regime and apartheid rule, nothing changed until 1994. Upon the republic stepping down and the countries first real democratic election, SA elected its first black president, Nelson Mendela. The blacks were ecstatic at the thought of finally moving out of the townships and having equal rights. The blacks of South Africa and even the world assumed that the end of apartheid would be the end of their bad economic, political, and personal situations. If their assumptions had been true, Kefentse would not be living in a shack right now without electricity or a clean bathroom, nor a worry about whether he would eat tomorrow. Unfortunately, their assumptions were not true. Apartheid as a means for segregation was simply replaced by corruption. I can say with almost complete certainty that Kefentse would not be living in a township right now if it were not for some of the corrupt leaders in South Africa.
Hoekzema 3 The corruption was originally seen in the minds of the white leaders in 1961 when SA became a republic. Their corruption manifested in apartheid and ultimately a wide gap between rich and poor. The world hoped that with the unprejudiced reintegration of democracy, South Africa would see a new light. Unfortunately, although democracy took over South Africa in 1994 not much has been done to reduce the gap between rich and poor. Since 1980, the unemployment rate has steadily increased, fluctuating slightly, from 9.2 percent in 1980 to 24 percent this year (Sakoana). The president and youth league president of South Africa may push those statistics to the side, denying the claims of corruption, and labeling other forces as causes for the increase in unemployment. Whether the unemployment was caused by the corruption or not is uncertain; the presence of corruption, however, is certain. It¶s because of apartheid that Kefentse was born in a shack, but it is because of corruption that he still lives in one. The presence of corruption was most clearly seen in the current president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma. While he was still just a Deputy President, he was ³under suspicion of corruption and accepting bribes from a French arms supplier (The Other World, 176).´ This corruption is most evident, though, in the African National Congress youth league president, Mr. Julius Malema. He has been in the limelight of South African, and sometimes world, media throughout his time as youth league president. His actions reflect the characteristics of a corrupt, communist leader. His comments sometimes contradict his actions and he is unable to defend himself. One incidence of this was seen in April 2010 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 only reinforced the racial tension that currently
Hoekzema 4 grips the country. Yet despite his decreasing credibility, the black youth of the country, Kefentse included, look up to him and model his actions. To elaborate, at a recent ANC rally, 25,000 young adults showed up in support of the ANC. Malema arrived late and commented on some of the officials in power using their position to benefit friends and family in a corrupt manner. This statement was well received by many groups, but it was a statement of hypocrisy. Julius Malema has been cited as having, ³amassed assets of over R4-million thanks to lucrative government contracts´ (classicmalema.co.za). In this 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 many followers. 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 model for many of the young adults in South Africa, yet he continues to act in a way that is not uplifting for society. Surely Kefentse wants to be out of his economic situation. Unfortunately, though, he, like most black South Africans, believes in the ideologies of the corrupt Julius Malema. If it was not enough for me to be moved into action by Kefentse, three other individuals had overwhelming impact on my passion for the development of this country. Kefentse, Mama Unas, Joshua, and Ferdinand, through their simple actions, have driven me to heavily research the causes for their situations. After connecting years of schooling with a year of research, I realized that globalization, modernization, consumerism, and capitalism are the main sources for their economic, political, and personal dilemmas. To feel my same urgency for this topic, though, the rest of their stories must be told.
Hoekzema 5 ³I want to feed the children,´ expressed Mama Unas. She was just asked what was her biggest dream. In my time with her, I saw her dream come to life. Currently, she feeds 100 children five days a week. Most of the children are malnourished and many of them are orphans, living in different parts of the community. Mama Unas is a natural leader, serving her community every day in meaningful ways. She lives in Stellenbosch, South Africa and calls a two-room shack home. She and her husband are unemployed with five children. They live illegally with 3,000 other squatters in the township of Enkhanini, located next to a larger township called Kayamandi. There are six working toilets for the 3,000 residents in Enkhanini and out of the hundreds of shacks the people reside in only two have electricity. Last summer, I spent six weeks with Mama Unas who has no idea that her economic situation was caused by globalization, modernization, consumerism, and capitalism. ³No, you must! My mother always taught me to feed my guests,´ insisted Joshua. I cringed as I took his last pear. The sweet juice of the pear left a bitter after taste with the thought of consuming Joshua¶s breakfast for the next day. The smiling South African did not think twice about forcing the pear on me. As he finished up the tour of his one room shack, complete with a foot-tall single propane burner and warped cupboard, I finished the pear. I glanced up from the remains of the pear in search of a trashcan. We stepped out of his bedroom/kitchen/dining room into Enkhanini where I again scanned the surroundings for a trashcan. I saw a pile of rubbish weaved into the barbed-wire fence ahead, several small stacks of soda cans and snack bags in the roadside ditch, and a heap of trash in the open community dump far off down the hill. I dropped the remnants of the pear in the ditch, adding to the depressing scene. Last summer, I spent six weeks with Joshua who has no idea that the state of his community was caused by globalization, modernization, consumerism, and capitalism.
Hoekzema 6 ³Why of course, you are always welcome here!´ exclaimed Ferdinand. My South African friend and I were looking for a place to stay the night in Enkhanini. Lourens said that Ferdinand is constantly asking him when the next time he will come and stay in his two-story shack. He actually built the shack himself, as most do, and lives there alone. He is a clerk by day and an artist by night. His handy work and skills as a painter and sculptor have made him rather famous in the community. The lime green two-story shack is a beacon of hope in the middle of the community for those with structural issues with their shacks. Ferdinand offers his skills and services to those who need help in exchange for a smile. He does not and, for the most part, cannot charge for his services. It is not only because he is a genuinely nice, giving person, but also because the consumers of his services do not have the ability to pay. Last summer, I spent six weeks with Ferdinand who had no idea that he will remain in his economic situation despite his best efforts to move out due to globalization, modernization, consumerism, and capitalism. Kefentse, Mama Unas, Joshua, and Ferdinand collectively represent the poor population of South Africa and currently feel the effects of globalization, modernization, consumerism, and capitalism. To understand their situation in full context, we must spell out the generally common knowledge of globalization. In short, the practice of globalization is, ³to extend to other or all parts of the globe,´ (dictionary.com). In the context of the modern global society, globalization, ³describes an ongoing process by which regional economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated through a globe-spanning network of communication and trade´ (wikipedia.com). This process is fueled by and fuels modernization, which generally refers to the increase in technology and to infrastructure development. Modernization and globalization go hand in hand,
Hoekzema 7 relying on each other as social forces influencing the cultures around the world. We see this in the fact that I could buy the same Big Mac in College Park, MD as Cape Town, South Africa. The increase in technology has the same weight. Of the two shacks that had electricity in South Africa, both had televisions and both televisions were never turned off. A television has almost become an expectation instead of a privilege. This expectation has paved the way for consumerism. As individuals make money, they tend to use it immediately to purchase goods, such as televisions, cell phones, furniture, etc. Mama Unas, Joshua, and Ferdinand all took special interest in showing me their ³stuff.´ Mama Unas¶ children ran up to me to show off their toys; Joshua pointed out every little trinket on his cupboard; and Ferdinand counted all the rooms in his shack during the tour (apparently a two story shack can have over 20 rooms). In no way does this mean that the poor of South Africa or the poor of the world are obsessed with consuming goods; it means that the entire world is addicted to consumption. And heavy consumption cannot be present without capitalism. Driven by profit, capitalism not only deals with production and distribution of goods, but the commercialization of products as well. Spending millions of dollars on advertisement campaigns gives corporations bigger stakes in a market, often promoting consumption of their product and ultimately profit. Mama Unas, Joshua, and Ferdinand experience the effect that ad campaigns have on the world. The campaigns tell children they need more toys, they tell young men that their success in life is rated on how much stuff they can acquire, and they tell aged adults that they need to own a big house by their time in life. So why does this even matter? Why should an American student, professor, or parent take the time out of pursuing the dream to think about Kefentse and his lack of food, or Mama Unas and her five children, or Joshua and his rubbish-filled community, or Ferdinand and his
Hoekzema 8 poor life? There is only one answer to that- you are human. As a fellow human, I know for a fact that you are emotionally and almost physically engaged into their lives, just as I am. As a current student, I see how the university system has responded to these world issues and it is not working. Universities around the United States, specifically the University of Maryland, label their involvement with encouraging students to study abroad as a proper and adequate response to the world issues that grip communities like Enkhanini. Granted, students that engage in Education Abroad are exposed to different cultures while studying at a different university. Even the mission statement of Education Abroad labels the goals of studying abroad for UMD students as personal, professional, and intellectual development. The mission statement focuses on the student and the successful engagement of the student¶s educational experience. It does not look to inspire change in the world through this highly sought after program. The Education Abroad program might express disagreement, citing the last sentence of their mission statement, explaining that students will become culturally perceptive citizens. However this product is not always produced. In a survey done by the Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium of 265 students from the Northeastern US that engaged in study abroad programs, only 30% express their positive foreign interaction to encouraging a career plan, and about half say their positive foreign interaction promoted personal growth (Klenosky). We see the mission statement that expresses favorably to foreign interaction does not produce the personal and professional growth that it claims to create. Study abroad is an excuse for exposure to world issues. The American media and education institutions have produced a perpetual cycle, linking the negativity of big social forces with naivety and misunderstanding. They show the world the toys they need, the stuff they should want, and the house they must have. They teach American students the reasons for social
Hoekzema 9 issues and propose solutions but fail to expose them to the severity of the issues. Luckily, last summer, I spent six weeks with Kefentse, Mama Unas, Joshua, and Ferdinand, and was exposed to the severity of poverty in South Africa. I would like to propose that the educational system ceases in promoting study abroad and begins the practice of serve abroad. This is exactly how I was exposed to the poverty of South Africa and developed my new worldview. By investing in Kefentse, serving in Mama Unas¶ feeding scheme, helping Joshua clean up his township, and providing the tools and manpower for Ferdinand to build proper shacks, the social forces of this world became personal issues. Serving abroad ³inspires and informs students, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to effectively engage with local and global communities and become culturally perceptive citizens´ (Education Abroad). This proposal does not start immediately with replacing the Education Abroad program at the University of Maryland with ³Serve Abroad.´ It starts small, like I started small, with the intentions of eventually replacing study abroad and education abroad programs around the United States. The Serve Abroad program will start with three focused steps that are guided towards the end goal. In order, the steps are to promote service trips, engage in non-profit organizations, and advocate for school and government policies favoring serving. We will promote at least one service trip per year for the first two years, progressively increasing the number of involved students. Each trip will be a minimum of four weeks in a developing country. Due to my personal investment in South Africa, returning there will be favorable, especially since briefing for the trip will include history of development in the country and community. The act of briefing will give involved students a sense of personal investment before actually arriving. I was so heavily impacted by my time in South Africa because I spent
Hoekzema 10 the year prior researching and reading up on current South African politics and trends. As we learn from each trip and increase capacity for involving more students, we will increase the number of trips per year exponentially, both in number and amount of time. This sense of progression will allow a wider range of personal investment at both the American and South African level. And as the network amongst individuals increases, the non-profit organization network will increase as well. We will also invest in these NGO relationships. Increasing the number of non-profit contacts in South Africa will allow for a greater number of American students to get involved as well as a greater potential for developmental progress. Already, we have solid relationships with Serve the City Stellenbosch, Serve Greater Stellenbosch, and Kuyasa. The service experiences will use several stateside NGOs as resources for planning, funding, and organizing the trips, such as The Ember Cast, World Vision, and Eastgate International. Developing strong relationships with those American non-profit organizations will also be key in reaching the end goal as the resources for development sit in America. The hope is that individuals within the organizations will have skills or know people who have skills in lobbying. A joint effort in advocating for policies in the United States and South African governments, as well as the University of Maryland system, towards serving abroad will increase the likelihood that the long-term plan will be achieved. Despite the best intentions of an individual, like myself, driven by the prolonged gaze of a clay-figure, there will not be long-term sustainable impact in either the United States or South Africa. Change in policies, and cultural perceptions must be made for the end goal to become real. Even as I attempt to put words to an idea for change, my mind is bogged down by the faces of Kefentse and Mama Unas, their smiles warm and inviting, naïve to the social forces that
Hoekzema 11 keep them from moving out of their shacks. Then the memory of Joshua¶s persistent hospitality reminds me that I have yet to do the same for someone else. His giving nature almost bringing me to tears as my mind takes me through his one room shack. Then Ferdinand and his personality focused on serving others despite possibly needing to be served on himself brings me back to this proposal. How can we as economically, politically, and personally stable Americans sit in our comfortable schools, houses, and cars and not be moved into action after hearing accounts like that?
Hoekzema 12 Works Cited "About SA - History." South African Government Information. 5 July 2010. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. <http://www.info.gov.za/aboutsa/history.htm#Segregation>. "CIA - The World Factbook." The World Factbook. 20 Jan. 2011. Web. 17 Feb. 2011. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sf.html>. Hoekzema, Trevin. "Trevin in South Africa." Web log post. Trevin and South Africa. July 2010. Web. 10 May 2011. <http://trevinhoekzema.blogspot.com/>. Hyde-Clarke, Nathalie. "Political Posturing and the Need for Peace Communication in Emerging Democracies: A Rhetorical Debate in South Africa" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association Annual Conference "Global Governance: Political Authority in Transition", Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel, MONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA, Mar 16, 2011 <Not Available>. 2011-01-25 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p500553_index.html> Klenosky, David B.; Fisher, Cherie LeBlanc, eds. Proceedings of the 2008 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium; 2008 March 30 - April 1; Bolton Landing, NY. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-42. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 232-249. Louw, P. Eric. The Rise, Fall, and Legacy of Apartheid. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004. Print Malefane, Moipone. "Malema Swipes at Zuma, Guptas." Breaking SA and World News. 27 Feb. 2011. Web. 08 Mar. 2011. <http://www.timeslive.co.za/Politics/article939585.ece/Malema-swipes-at-ZumaGuptas>. Maritz, Lourens. "State of Enkhanini." Personal interview. 12 July 2010.
Sapa. "Anglo: Mine Nationalisation a 'road to Ruin' - Business - Mail & Guardian Online."Mail & Guardian Online. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. <http://mg.co.za/article/2011-02-08-anglo-mine-nationalisation-a-road-to-ruin>. Sakoana, Thapelo. "SA 'making Progress' on Poverty." South Africa.info. 25 June 2007. Web. 22 Feb. 2011. <http://www.southafrica.info/about/social/social-250607.htm>. Weatherby, Joseph. The Other World: Issues and Politics of the Developing World. New York: Pearson/Longman, 2007. Print.
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