South Africa’s forgotten children: rappers catch a wake up!

According to The Witness, only a third (33.4%) of South Africa’s children live with both their mother and father. This is one of the findings published by the Child Institute of the University of Cape Town, in an annual review called the South African Child Guage 2012. In the poorest 20% of the population 87 children die per 1000 live births and in the richest 20%, 22 children die per 1000 live births. It is stated that there are 885000 double orphans in the country yet the Register on Adoptable Children and Prospective Adoptive Parents has only 378 registered children available for adoption.

Its said that two of the group of children that are worst affected by poverty are children from rural areas and informal settlements. In these areas there is often very little support systems, very low quality education and poor health care. Many of these children live in child headed households. Many of South Africa’s children depend on the child support grant, which it is stated reaches more than 11 million children. However it does not reach many children before their first birthday, at a time where adaquate nutrition is crucial. Although the child grant is meant to support the children, we know that in a majority of cases it is used to take care of the needs of the entire family.

I walk in town everyday and I am confronted by street children everywhere. This morning one child I saw pulled out two peaches from the bin, that someone had thrown away. That is somebody’s child. What can I do about this, what can the government do about this? Our rappers, people that say to us that they are social critics, the people’s poet as Da Les of Jozi once put it, aren’t saying or doing anything about this. What are they showing us instead? Cars, money, women, alcohol, drugs the whole nine yards. They are forcing us to live in a world of fantasy, they are creating worlds of fantasy for themselves.

I attended a lecture by John Holloway last week and one of the things that he said was that it is hard to pretend that everything is fine at the moment, that everything is all good. Its plain stupid. He was not talking about hip hop and rappers. He was talking about the current economic crisis. Yet I thought he should be talking to these people that call themselves rappers and poets. That is what they show us all the time, that everything is all good. Show me three rappers on TV right now who are saying otherwise. Show me three rappers who are worried about the social economic crisis that is staring us in the face right now, whether they are showing the plight of South Africa’s forgotten children in their videos.

If guys are not showing us the truth around us, if they are pushing us into fantasy land along with them then they are not hip hop for me. Plain and simple. Show us the problems in our society, dont ignore them. Maybe we can all collectively do something about them. Hip hop is a global and national force, equally powerful as any government.


Brother Eleyejah

see the feature article: The Witness, Thursday, October 18, page 11 : Worlds apart.