Proudly Manenberg’s Second Annual Conference – September 2007
Speaker: Marius Fransman
Members and supporters of Proudly Manenberg
Mothers and fathers of Manenberg
The Youth of Manenberg
Friends and comrades
MANY places in South Africa have been celebrated in song – but just one of these songs has ever gone on to become a major international hit.
It was written by one of South Africa’s (and, indeed, one of the world’s) greatest jazz musicians, Abdullah Ibrahim – and it was recorded in Johannesburg in June 1974 with a backing lineup that included two other Capetonians, Robbie Jansen and the late Basil Coetzee.
The song, of course, was “Mannenberg” (with two Ns)
In its heyday, “Mannenberg” was more than just a song.
In the context of its time, it was a state-of-mind – it was about holding onto hope … about instilling pride … and about building resistance.”
It spoke about the destruction of District Six and of forced removals – and about the resolve of people to refuse to have their spirits crushed – even if the enemy was formidable and had a frightening array of weapons.
In an interview many years later, Ibrahim said: “People still come up to me and tell me how they would hum ‘Mannenberg’ as they were bundled into police vans.”
Friends, comrades – not a single person in this People’s Centre this morning will deny that this township faces massive challenges.
But if any community has the capacity to rise above these challenges, and to tackle adversity, it is Manenberg.
You have triumphed before. And I know you have the strength of mind to triumph again.
I have already touched on the hope, pride and resistance of another era in the history of Manenberg. Although the times – and the challenges – are different, the qualities Manenberg displayed then are as relevant and as important today as they were yesterday.
I would like to add two other words to this list (they are ideals, actually), which I believe are key components of the message that Proudly Manenberg strives so hard to carry over to the people of this community.
And these two words are ambition and achievement.
Hope … pride … resistance … ambition … and achievement – they are all interlocked. Each is dependent on the other.
But in unison, they can move mountains.
Friends and comrades – much has been written and said about drugs – especially tik – that have become such a blight on our communities … and which so many people (including members of Proudly Manenberg) are so rightly pointing out, are threatening to destroy our youth.
As we move towards elections in 2009, much more will be said about tik and other drugs, and a whole range of solutions to tackle the scourge will be offered by a wide range of politicians and would-be politicians.
I am not going to pass judgment on the methods that others may choose to use. They must make their call – and they must live by the consequences of their actions.
What I would like to do this morning is outline my own views on the subject – and, hopefully, begin a dialogue with you that will ultimately lead to the formulation of an anti-drugs plan that will be proactive rather than reactive (as so many strategies tend to be these days).
Let me say from the outset – tik is one of the most frightening challenges of our time. And that those who sell tik and other drugs to members of our communities are heartless, evil people who must be arrested, tried, convicted and sent to prison for a long, long time.
But I am also well aware that those who sell drugs – these so-called merchants – have been living in the midst of communities such as Manenberg for many years.
They lend money to families in times of need. They sponsor football clubs. They settle family disputes. Hell, many of them ARE sons and daughters, and uncles and aunts of residents.
Hundreds, if not thousands of families in our townships, owe them favours. Their tentacles are everywhere.
I know that the shutting down of a drug house – and the eviction of its owners – will fill us all with satisfaction. It’s perfectly natural reaction by law-abiding citizens.
But I don’t believe that this, by itself, will solve the problem of drug addiction and all the evils that go with it.
Indeed, what it could do is change the nature of drugs smuggling. The drugs business will become much more mobile. Dozens of freelance drugs marketers will go around the townships, delivering on order.
It will become even harder to contain the scourge. We are dealing with extremely cunning people.
I propose a two-pronged solution. Firstly, drug lords and their salespeople must be arrested and convicted.
Secondly, and most importantly, we must reduce the size of their market.
And this is how I propose to do it: launch and intensify an anti-drugs campaign that begins at primary school … and which goes into high schools … and into homes.
The campaign should revolve around a slogan along the lines of, “If I can, you can”.
Friends and comrades, if each of you here this morning can get the commitment of just one child to stay off drugs – and if that child can convince just one friend to do the same, we will be making progress.
Of course, government will have to play a much more robust role in creating conditions that will engender HOPE among our youth….
A few months ago, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel wrote an article for the Cape Argus, which contained some worrying statistics.
Manuel wrote: “In 2003, just over 38 000 young people in the province wrote the Matric examination. Of the total, just over 33 000 or 87 percent passed. Of those who passed, 27.1 percent obtained university endorsement. Of the total number who wrote, 4 268 (11 percent) passed with mathematics on the higher grade and 3 937 (10 percent) passed with physical science on the higher grade.
“Of the maths higher grade passes, there were 220 African, 853 coloured and 201 Indian learners (1 274 in total). So how many learners passed mathematics on the higher grade at Cape Flats schools?”
“Why has it become so easy to limit the opportunities of learners by not placing enough emphasis on the importance of mathematics and science? Surely this must be repaired through extra effort in the schooling system all the way from pre-school to Matric.
Who cares? Who listens? Who acts?
These are three crucial questions that Manuel asks.
And the answer we – the Western Cape government and organizations such as Proudly Manenberg – need to give is: “We care. We are listening. And that we will act.
But then we will have to follow up words with action.
There is one inescapable fact that we have to face this morning. Youth resort to drugs and gangs when they have no alternatives – and no hope.
We must provide them with alternatives and hope.
Organizations such as Proudly Manenberg must find ways to fire the youth of this community with AMBITION.
Instead of Matric with typing as a subject, learners must be encouraged to take Maths and Science. And volunteers must be found to help those who may struggle initially to master these subjects.
Bursary opportunities must be identified.
Parents, moreover, must be encouraged to look at a bigger picture. An extra year or two of study for their children rather than immediate employment (for a small salary) as a clerk in a clothing factory may be far more beneficial for everyone in the long run.
My Department is well aware of the challenges facing the youth in our province – especially the youth from our poorer communities.
Not only are we coming to the party, but in fact, we are arranging more parties….
I am particularly proud of our Maskh’ iSizwe Centre of Excellence, which targets financially disadvantaged learners – especially women – for bursaries to study at our local universities. Of the intake of 260 pupils this year, 92 are women. It is a little less than the 50 percent that I would have hoped for, I believe that as women begin to see opportunities opening up in the engineering field, this figure will rise dramatically.
But to the community of Manenberg, I want to say this: whether you are male or female, work at your maths and science – and have the confidence and the AMBITION to apply for one of these bursaries.
From our side, we will set aside five bursaries, worth R20,000 each, for residents of Manenberg.
We have another intervention that I would like to tell you about….
It is called Learnership 1000 – and this year we have 747 participants, of which 261 are women. Learnership 1000 basically teaches participants a trade across a variety of disciplines. Again, I would like to appeal to you to contact my Department to get more intervention.
We also have an Expanded Public Works Programme, which this year has a complement of 40 000 people, of which 16,169 are women.
It is frightening that we have an unemployment rate of 52 percent for people under the age of 25.
This, I believe, is the main reason that we have so many difficult social evils in communities such as Manenberg.
I’m pleased to announce here today that representatives of my Department met officials of Proudly Manenberg last week to discuss a number of job creation interventions, including:
- Environmental Projects
- Saamstaan-type projects
- The appointment of a coordinator to manage various projects
- Learnerships and bursaries
- Our jobs portal/unemployment database
Here are some of the results of that meeting….
We will assist with a cleaning and greening type project in the Manenberg area, which has been divided into five zones for the purpose of this project. We envisage 20 beneficiaries being used per zone (in other words 100 beneficiaries) for a period of a year.
At R1,200 per month, per beneficiary, we will spend just over R1.4-million on the 100 beneficiaries. Five team leaders at R8 000 per month each, will push the total up to just over R1.9-million (excluding the cost of any materials)
We will also help Proudly Manenberg to ensure community involvement in maintenance work on the Red River Primary School.
Another intervention involves a pilot project called “Late Coming”, aimed at ensuring that pupils from Manenberg High get to school safely and on time, via a donation of bicycles.
We are also looking at appointing a coordinator for a period of 12 months for all the projects I’ve just mentioned. We are budgeting R240 000 for this purpose.
Friends and comrades – I began this address by speaking about HOPE, PRIDE, AMBITION and ACHIEVEMENT, and I would like to end it with an observation by the sixth-century bce Chinese philosopher, Lao-tse, which I believe is an excellent recipe for building hope, being proud, having ambition and achieving things beyond wildest dreams….
“If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbours.
If there is to be peace between neighbours,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.”
Try it. It works.
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