Home of legends now a place in tatters and ruin

Phiri Cawe

The day after the long awaited alert level announcement allowing me to finally go home to the Eastern Cape, there was a sense of puzzlement but more so anger in me.

Driving back home, left me dumbfounded. It would not make sense for me to ignore some of the experiences along the way to my beloved province simply because it is a lot easier to like where you were born than it is where you’ve been adopted.

Maybe that is the reason why many of us are in denial that the Eastern Cape province is “vrot” to the core.

EC is beautiful, mountainous and rich in agriculture. But its leaders are heartless and ice-cold.

Its officials are greedy, corrupt and it seems there is no going back. Visiting home brings heartfelt pains, anger and hopelessness.

Going home evokes bad memories. Uncared for infrastructure, unmaintained roads, water engines and traffic lights in towns looks like nothing to its people.

Racism in small towns like Cradock, Graaff-Reinet, Paterson, Pearston and others is alive and it seems normal. Farmers are still preferring to sit in their cars with their dogs in front. But I might be wrong, maybe black Africans prefer to sit at the back of the bakkies by choice.

However, that is too much to swallow. At some point I had a conversation with some farmworkers in Graaff-Reinet.

It was with only Africans who were telling me they have no choice but to sit with dogs or face the wrath of their baas (masters). They still call their masters, baas.

Remember this is the place that is home to the Pan Africanist and apartheid hater, utata uMangaliso Sobukhwe, where farmers are still treating people like doormats. And people allow that to happen.

I guess there are individuals who just claim to be at the forefront of people’s emancipation. Instead they are enjoying the gravy trains that have been presented to them by our own comrades.

The so-called RDP houses in Graaff-Reinet are an insult to its people. If you pass there, you will concur with me.

In a place like Cradock, home of the Cradock Four (a group of four anti-apartheid activists, Fort Calata, Matthew Goniwe, Sicelo Mhlauli, and Sparrow Mkhonto, who were abducted and murdered by South African security police in June 1985), it is amazing that people still endure not only hardship and hunger but discrimination. The Cradock Four must be turning in their graves; Sobukhwe must be crying non-stop in heaven. It is over 35 years after their deaths – and things are worse. The so-called “home of legends” is in tatters. There’s a lack of good leadership. People are poorer than before.

What are they really doing? The Eastern Cape is far behind in development but tops in carelessness of its people and corruption.

How I long that those who claim to care and lead can help the province.

The Western Cape province is also beautiful, perceived by many to be owned by racists but very productive too when it comes to agribusiness.

The Western Cape I’m sure is not immune to corruption and greediness, but if it happens, it is done “professionally”. No matter – one cannot condone these acts. People should be a priority in any government. Their colour should not matter; service to people should matter more.

Some of what is happening in Cape Town makes me believe that it is really a lot easier to like where you were born than your adopted home.

We do funny things in Cape Town, things that we would never try to do in the Eastern Cape.

But having said all this, the Eastern Cape needs to be rescued from the sharks.The province is in tatters.