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The Myth of African Poverty
There is a great fallacy, a lie perpetuated through history and around the globe: that Africa is poor.
Africa is presented as poor, because it doesn’t have any of this strange folding stuff called money. It has plenty of everything else, it is what capitalists and prospectors call resource rich. Indeed, it is the most perfect place to grow our tea, coffee, cocoa… fruit, vegetables, flowers… and harvest our rubber, hardwood… oil… jewels, minerals… It’s enough to destabilise governments for!
We then offer them some of this folding stuff and they fall back into line. And lie and cheat and steal all the way from the top down, so this paltry representation of real value never gets anywhere near those who work the land or were driven off it. Yet because the dispossessed were duped with the concepts of land ownership and hierarchical authority (and violence), they feel disempowered and they too have fallen under the spell of this strange stuff called money.
Africa has never been poor. It has a history and wealth of diversity unequalled. And further, if we are to believe our anthropologists and geneticists, the very birthplace of humanity. Surprising then, is it not, that while in Western Europe and North America we’ve decimated the forests, worn out the soil, polluted the rivers and water tables and exhausted the mines, Africa remains, to the large part, thriving and fruitful. A godsend to Western governments with stomachs to fill, corporations with consumers to satisfy and banks with interest to manufacture.
In its early days, in 2008, the craze was simply a South African version of the "dance battles", popular among young, urban black people in the United States. But there is nothing playful about i'khothane's latest incarnation.
These days, such gatherings often culminate in the burning of expensive designer clothes -- and even money. It is about standing out from the crowd: proving to your mates that you are so rich that expensive possessions mean nothing. It does not stop at clothing or R50 notes. Sometimes i'khothane also involves the destruction of "party" food such as KFC, which the dancers stamp into the ground as other kids look on. According to i'khothane legend, in Pimville someone once bought a bucket of KFC chicken and stepped on it. Then he took off his Carvela shoes, set them alight and declared: "They [the shoes] have finished eating and now they are full!" I'khothane "battles" are usually held at a local park or other open space. The news of the gatherings is spread by word of mouth and the crews are mobbed by hundreds of admiring children and teenagers as they arrive. It is instant celebrity.