The privilege of being heard

Day Zero is fast approaching in Cape Town and the people of Cape Town are angry. Outraged even. Had I not witnessed what I had in the Eastern Cape last week, I may be outraged too. Instead, I reflect that outrage is yet another form of privilege. In order to rant and rage, you must have some kind of benchmark for injustice – a point of comparison – to understand a situation with and without water.

In order to throw your toys out of the cot with such great aplomb you must feel that your voice means something, that shouting from the rafters will achieve something, that someone is listening. The privilege of being heard.

The people of Canzibe, in the heart of the rural Eastern Cape, know no such privilege.

They live in a subdued state of emergency. Their cries for a tarred road, an upgraded hospital, more nurses and better emergency services reverberate quietly in the lush valleys.

Canzibe district hospital, based in the Nyandeni sub-district, serves a population of around 143,000 people. Thirteen clinics in this vast area refer patients to the hospital. According to the latest District Health Barometer (2016/2017) the district is ranked amongst the 10 worst districts in the country with regard to the numbers of babies, children, and mothers dying. The former Eastern Cape homelands have also been identified as among the “most deprived” areas within South Africa according to an older study by the Centre for Analysis of South African Social Policy at the University of Oxford. The study based on results from the 2001 Census in South Africa reflects income and material deprivation, employment deprivation, education deprivation, health deprivation and living environment deprivation.