Another Voice

October 24, 2008

My driver from the convention center to the Cape Town airport was an older gentleman. Called me “sir”. (As do almost all in the various service and hospitality industries). Him, from the Cape Malay community—a group brought in as servants by the British generations ago and afforded somewhat more rights during apartheid. Called “coloured” in the official classification scheme.

When asked whether things were better now, he replied, “Oh, no sir. Things are much worse now.”

I pressed him. Surely freedom is better.

“When I was a boy, I could walk anywhere without being afraid.”

What about jobs and opportunities, I inquired?

As a child, his was a fate limited to low paying jobs, and was only educated until the eight grade.

I asked what kind of jobs. Being a driver for example.

He conceded that he could walk wherever he wanted during the day, but not at night. Still, life was safer—better “sir”.

Asked about hope for the future, he replied that it would probably come after his time was over. “After I have made a trip to another land, sir.”


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