Bush and Blair began their “war on terror” after 9/11 and the world
turned paranoid with fear, when Haiti collapsed and Grenada crumbled, and
Guyana sunk deeper into its divided politics, we were glad we were
floating obscurely somewhere in the ocean of the Americas. Glad we
didn’t live in the Europe and America of terror threats, in the Africa
of famine, in the India of conflict and poverty, in the bloody mess that
is the Middle East. Glad we had the oil Haiti and Jamaica never had.
ought, if we don’t want to become extinct, to keep our eyes peeled to
the world, watch for trends. And as Naipaul said once “who cares about
the politics of a country of 1.3 million people,” we may as well sink as
far as the world is concerned.
eggs of a monster newly burgeoned in Jo’berg have already hatched here
in the form of gated communities which have sprung up all around us as our
own new utopia.
discovered that in a chilling feature titled Eden In An Electric Fence in
The Guardian Weekly which tells of the chilling existence of Dainfern, a
walled fortress in Johannesburg, “the costliest secure space in
Africa” which is designed to protect its residents from crime and fear.
reports journalist Christopher Hope, “is the city of beautiful walls
where people fortify their houses, barricade their flats, electrify their
fences, buy dogs and guns. Or they move into cluster-villages, gated,
guarded and patrolled round the clock. The hijacker who wants your car
will shoot a black businessman as easily as a white housewife. “What
segregates South Africans these days is security. It’s cash, not colour
gated community of Dainfern apparently is “the answer to the
Jo’bergers prayer: to live an unlocked life in a safe place where no
bullets fly and car jackers fear to tread.”
a cocoon of dappled sunshine, a golf course, and carefree homes. The
residents are living in a fool’s paradise. Out of its gated walls, South
Africa is riddled with violent crime, created by its barbaric history of
apartheid and politics of race.
chunk of the price tag for this freedom from fear is invested in security
systems in gated communities. Intruders to Dainfern risk being
electrocuted, shot or arrested.
in the walls that ring the enclave are seismic sensors. Reinforced steel
bars reach down three metres into the earth to stop human moles who might
tunnel beneath the fortifications. Detectors along the length of the
perimeter wall listen for incursions. An electric fence tops the walls and
carries enough current, a police notice warns, ‘to cause death.’
Closed circuit cameras check the perimeter defences. In the gatehouse
control room staff screen and record every visitor who comes and goes.
Rapid reaction vehicles stand ready, and frequent armed patrols glide
through the area.”
is selling safety in a dangerous world. The idea that you can buy yourself
out of a nation state and into a high-security nirvana. It is not an
anachronism in the new South Africa. It is the future in which, as the
planners of Dainfern have realised, everyone will live in townships.”
is contrasted with another sort of township Diepsloot “a vast
apocalyptic place of rutted roads, shacks, thin children, constant
funerals, dirt roads and dust.”
the people on the Laventille hills and Caroni plains. See the contrasting
gap between the hunted in closed-up houses and the hunters in ghettos will
never be closed with handout make work that keeps people dependent,
neither will hostility towards business people do the trick. The politics
of race will sink us.
need a literacy drive, training, and sustainable jobs, for people, freeing
up Cepep labour for manufacturing, industry and construction.
need to redirect the oil money, from “make work” towards providing
healthcare, housing, infrastructure and utilities for every citizen.
our new utopia. The gated community separating the hunter from the hunted.
Each under siege in its own way.