Q: How do you know when your city is en route “down the bog”?
A: For me, having travelled the lengths and breadths of the country on its many rocky roads – going to the end of the earth or at least being able to “see the end of the earth from where you are at”…it usually equals the appalling state of the streets, of the buildings and the number of homeless people, trying their utmost to eke out an existence (a survival) in/near the city.
But, a clear pattern has emerged for me: you know you are firmly in a Third World city when practically every street electric pole offers a “R150 abortion” and “a penis enlargement” for about the same price. I am not sure if there is a “streetwise two” special…she goes for the abortion and he goes for the penis enlargement at a discounted price, with a nibble portion of chips, like the “upsize” option at take-away outlets. The ultimate antithesis: let’s make those penises larger so that we can offer more backstreet abortions for under R200. Seems like a clever business model!
It is February already. And there goes the year…galloping at a pace that has become quite alarming. Is it me, or does it feel as though years are just flying by?
Before we know it, someone will be announcing how many shopping days are left for Christmas, and people will be booking end-of-year holiday places, if they hadn’t done so already. And then there is the drinking and driving and the number of road accidents – will it decrease this year, I wonder? Pause.
While listening to the radio, I heard them talking about the drinking-and-driving phenomenon that has been in the news post the festive season. People call in as they usually do, adding their two cents.
The long and the short of it was that many people thought taxpayers’ money should be used to rent taxis or to have some sort of transport system for drunkards who need to get home. Seriously? What happened to the naming-and-shaming of drivers who drive drunk campaign? Listeners thought that was a croc. I am still in two minds about that. I said this before – we all want the conveniences of the First World, but too many of us have Third World mentalities. The education that comes with the First World: technology and law enforcement just isn’t there.
We need a mindset change…not simply more enforcement of the law. People need to understand what that law is connected to…how their attitudes to that law need to change. It is similar to the way one would teach a child – not just to say “because I said so,” but to explain why they need to stick to speed limits, and not drive under the influence and…and…
On another day they were talking about jaywalking. Again – it is more prevalent over holiday time, and in our uneducated world. More pedestrians. More people frantically taking to the streets – heaven help us! In Claremont, the jaywalking phenomenon is frightening.
The Main Road is packed with people too lazy to walk to either of the pedestrian crossings at the traffic lights and two lanes on either side with taxis hooting…oooh, a disaster just waiting to happen…and why? Because we are not taught about it and then law enforcement should follow…one traffic officer can make tons of money issuing fines between the Atrium (is it still called that?) and the KFC corner (just a few hundred yards away).
I drive there often. Sometimes one wants to overtake, and as one is just about to, one has to stop in a hurry because pedestrians also need to be negotiated.
Where are the traffic cops? Fine these people…make some noise about it. But then I remember we are in South Africa – we have to wait until a few people are killed before we do something about it. And that “something” will be to talk about it on radio, have an article in the paper, and that is it! We are too busy with stadiums and with changing the names of streets.
I love the Lead SA campaign. Take control. Make a quantifiable difference. At last the right noises are being made, and in the right direction. Pour some money into street walking and driving education – something innovative: public service announcements and perhaps on-street roleplay campaigns.
And I have said this before: people need recipes, formulae to know how to go forward to help make this place better for all. That, and like when opening a business, it is all about location, location, location…we need education, education, education!