4am on a cold winter’s morning in Joburg. I’m on my way to pick up my boss for our early flight thinking to myself “It can’t be legal to be out and about so early.”
As I continue on, I see people walking in pairs. It’s still pitch black out and these people are walking. No, not a sluggish, lazy walk which I feel is warranted given this obscene time of day. No. They are brisk walking with enthusiasm, chatting away and they look like they’ve been at it for a while too. My heart broke. Men and women alike make this commute to work daily.
Last night on the way home, I saw large groups of people doing the same – making the long trek back home. What time do these people wake up in order to be on their way to work by 4am? And what time do they get home? When do they get to take care of their households and spend time with their families?
The same goes for those who catch taxis to work each day. Having to wait in long queues for one and those who have to catch several taxis to get to work. For a low-income wage earner, how much of their income do they spend on their commute? They must be work in order to get to work.
Apartheid may be over, but freedom is still for the minority. True freedom is being able to own your time. When you spend most of your day trying to get where you are going, you are always chasing after time. Time is never yours. How many people can say their time is theirs – professionals included? The rat race for the professional is just as much a form of slavery in itself – just with better modes of transport and a higher income to try make up for it.
For now though, I speak about that man or woman living in Alex or Diepsloot who daily is reminded of life’s inequalities – living in the ghetto and working in the burbs. Always trying to get where their going – not being able to just up and leave as and when they feel like it.With such limitations, how can one be expected to break the poverty cycle. It is made that much harder with limited time to think of and realise alternative income streams. To those who do, I salute you all.
I admire and respect these people who carry on with their days cheerfully in spite of the inequalities they see in their life. Life is not fair and, most likely, will never be in this lifetime.