I can not Afford to Be Poor & The Spanish Inquisition

The signs of poverty are showing  up on my face seriously.

I cannot afford to be poor because when I walk because I cannot afford transport, (most of the time I enjoy it) the sun burns my skin (which is sensitive), because I cannot afford good sun-screen lotion, or the regular treatments and facials my mother used to give to working women back in the day. I am exposed daily to environmental pollution from Co2 emissions coming from the the city of golds’ fast cars and generally  aggressive traffic on the streets.

HEALTH TIP OF THE DAY: Sleep and  natural pure honey if you can find it somewhere is a good cheap treatment for Acne !

I cannot afford to be poor because when I walk, because I don’t have money for transport and I  hurt my foot or something  on yet another unmanned hole or ditch, or step in into sewage spilling out on the street, I cannot afford good (private) medical treatment as treatment at a public hospitals may leave me worse for wear (i.e without a foot the one without a problem)  if I manage to get any treatment at all or  worse still I  may not even come back. Because people who go to public hospitals don’t always come back. I have lost two relatives that way. Seriously though more than my worries about my vanishing good looks, being poor is expensive and it’s hard.

I cannot afford to be sick. Ever.

To be tired. ever.

I cannot afford a house.

To go on holiday. what’s that

To cry. It’s your fault. you’re in this mess.

To give up. How else do you expect  to get out of this mess….?

I just cannot afford it, it’s too expensive….. .

Okay Enough About me…. I was watching Aljazeera, last night and watched as tens of thousands of Spaniards took to the streets in protest against Austerity Measures and a potential bail-out from the European Union. Protesters are angry saying  “conditions” for the bail-out will make life even harder that it already is for  Spaniards in the long run and particularly the poor.  In no less than 56  Spanish Cities people are up in arms. Spain follows  hot on the heels of Greece and Portugal whose budgets are in the red and are all equally  in need of a Bail out:

The new bailout fund is being unveiled as finance ministers from the 17-nation eurozone meet in Luxembourg, amid more gloomy indicators about Europe’s economic health. Officially called the European Stability Mechanism, the new $653-billion rescue fund aims to offer a financial buffer for ailing eurozone economies like Greece and Spain. It follows September’s announcement by the European Central Bank of a bond-buying plan to ease the longstanding eurozone debt crisis.

Wikipedia describes Austerity measures in the European context as follows:

Prior to the 2010 European sovereign debt crisis, in many situations, austerity programs were implemented by countries that were previously under dictatorial regimes (e.g., Portugal, Greece, Spain), leading to criticism that the citizens are forced to repay the debts of their oppressors.[1][2][3]

In the present-day enactments of various “austerity budgets”, however, a prior history of dictatorship is not necessarily a precondition for the implementation of such a budget by a given government. Examples of countries implementing severe austerity measureswithout a history of what the world’s mainstream media would typically consider a ‘dictatorship’, include the United Kingdom and theRepublic of Ireland, the latter of which witnessed its housing market completely (rather than partially as elsewhere) collapse, and the Republic eventually appealing for a massive bailout from the International Monetary Fund, “in exchange for” implementation of a very severe austerity programme. The austerity measures and the terms of the IMF bailout became major aspects of the 2008–2011 Irish financial crisis, and popular anger over these issues played a very major role in the loss of governmental power of Fianna Fáil to opposition parties in the 2011 Irish general election.

Oh that looks familiar! African countries have been receiving  similar(ish) Bail-outs with ever more stringent conditions from the IMF, the World bank and our Mothers and Fathers in Europe or America nothing’s new about that. The difference is: and this is something neither I nor any African or human being CAN  afford to be without:  An  Education 

Many Spaniards, Greeks and Turks or the people in those countries are informed; have knowledge about, are generally educated on the  implications of partaking (accepting) in that delicious looking  $653-billion  bail out Fund the EU unveiled yesterday.

It has wide and very  long-term,  maybe even permanent implications on the basic foundations of  any country’s economy or  the Big FIVE. This is a rather safari-esque  term coined by the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University  in New York city Prof Jeffery Sachs  to describe a set of  Multi-pronged investments for development: Agriculture (food/land), Basic Health care, Education, Power (electricity) Transport and Communication  and finally Water and Sanitation ( as if any of the above would function without it).

African governments have had to agree to austerity measures whose conditions fundamentally undercut their ability/ chance /capacity to achieve any form of notable “development”  as bail-out from the IMF and World bank have required drastic budget cuts on the Big Five, which has created a cycle where Africa is perpetually in debt and yet is unable to use or unwilling to use any of the money for its own development, opening the door to donor – well – meaning donor agencies who further create a cycle of perpetual dependency and dis-empowerment. As an African Woman and having been a recipient of “aid” and “donor-funding”  and “bail-outs”I understand more acutely how aid can cripple ones’ own agency when its terms and conditions have not been properly read and understood.  And much more than the rand and cents and the interest one has to pay;  the personal cost to my own development/freedom has been immense to put it “mildly”; it has  amputated  relationships I otherwise assumed were friendly. That cost is more than any money I can ever earn or pay so these days  I find myself having to say no, I will take the high road of sunburn and  pimples at 31. Because even that is a small price to pay for my independence and economic freedom ( of course I would rather  have great skin and economic freedom, maybe its just genetics  and nothing to do with the weather/economic status)

African leader’s says Wangaari Maathai –  are educated – and they knowingly agree to these long-short-tight  rope agreements because they too suffer from a culture of dis-inheritance and for them the bail-outs/donor/aid/funding  are a quick way to make a  buck in  the short-term,  while they can. But they leave the rest of us (their nations) in complicated, an intricate debt that will take years of patience s before we are able to unravel the intricate web of slave chains they so meticulously (albeit unknowingly) weaved around us.   Like Teachers are doing in South Africa, passing student they never taught a single word to – they’ll deal with it.

Because there’s no money for education; people just believe what their politicians (former liberators)  are saying because they believe they have their best interest at heart. They don’t  have the  means ( time money, equipment etc ) for basic things like going to a library or an  internet cafe to find out for themselves what is going on or to learn about what other people in other countries like Spain do when facing the very same problems and why, why even go to Spain when Zimbabwe has had great success in educating its people, South African teacher prefer to teach Zimbabwean students ( they are clever they say), why not go there and see what they did to educate their people in a short space of time,  how did they get it right?

Often the educated exploit the uneducated.

So we all cannot afford to be un-educated (Text-book saga) – we cannot afford  not have access to information (PIA) we cannot afford  to be SILENT – when we don’t know where we are going.

Would you stay in a bus or taxi/train/plane/ship/ in which no one including yourself knows where it’s going?

To be SILENT is to DIE

No one can afford to be poor. Being without an education, without access to basic health care,  agriculture, transport and communication, water and sanitation, that my friends is poverty and its cruel and unnecessary.

I know I can’t change the weather ( even though the princess inside me sometimes thinks she can) I just want to be able to afford a rain-coat and umbrella when it rains,  warm clothes when its cold, cool clothes when its hot, good treatment when I’m ill, and some love and real, sweet compassion every now and again.

I am not asking for an Empire or a village….

Soweto? from here.

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