Competition Gone Completely Wrong – A Township Tale

We buy nothing that has no name attached to it. We purchase everything that’s beyond the normal price tag. Maybe our whole life is untrue, for everything we do is a show off. It doesn’t matter when we sleep on an empty stomach, as burning money to ashes means a lot for our street credit. This is foolish in your eyes but you’d one day comprehend, for the immense competition that we’re in, is no child’s play.

Everything we engage in is driven by the desire to come out more than victorious. Competition lives in the air we breathe. It swings back and forth within our daily sufferings and accomplishments. Competition drives in us ambitions to constantly remain undefeated and it has the capability to give joyful tingles down a spine like those encountered by a cat in possession of the creamiest of creams.

Sometimes competition becomes a quest to hold a title for being the best at things one is yet to accumulate. This act escalates the competitive bar so high that the competitor is found drowning in boiling water because when competition is at hand necessity becomes more than just a mother of inventions and variety is revealed as nothing but a sour spice of life.

Township lifestyle is probably the most glamourised, verily enticed and a must never miss lifestyle if you ever hit our so called home ground. Township dwellers of this country pride themselves as the most trendy and the originators of everything including life itself. A place where sometimes struggling is embraced as it is ought to bring a better tomorrow.

These dwellers always feel the need to prove to you that they are the strongest of individuals for they’ve endured what you shall never understand. And for that reason, they consider themselves the most informed about life and its applausable short comings that you’d be damned not to see them in their territory.

EKasi (directly translates as home, but it would mean township to you), is the common word to describe our home ground and is directly linked with rawness. This is probably the same coarseness which rendered our fore fathers victims of demeaning job titles. However when people from eKasi flourish, part of eKasi blows vuvuzelas, beams with its best smile, for it means even though Kasi and its dwellers are associated with dirt and nothingness, they are able to flourish regardless.

Well I’m not from eKasi, I hail from a neighborhood where there was no electricity (till this day the village is brought to light by candles) and we had to fetch water in a tap about 1.5km away. I’m not just rural, I’m the kind of girl whose fun was found in traveling miles to fetch firewood, whose joy was expressed in doing laundry in flowing river waters. The kind of girl who earned her childhood education in walking approximately 10 miles everyday. The girl who learnt to put up fire before she could write her name, the little girl who knew how to chase a chicken from the yard just for super.

As a rural girl, I’m told; I can only apprehend hardships of urban life after I’ve been Kasi certified (that’s to learn township customs). If you’re not aware, well allow me to bring into your consciousness. A culture which sees its roots in the townships is given appraisal in this country for I guess those are the people seen as incapable of achieving or attracting greatness that is worthy of any fruition. I also guess that’s where the need for these township bred individuals to always shout out the name of their township comes from.

Which brings me to the topic on the table; s’khothanes, these to you will be individuals who are possessed with enormous insanity that they choose to burn their branded items just as a show off of how much they really have, thus the name skhothane (that’s Joburg Zulu for showing off, KZN people might know it as is’chomane).

If you’ve roughly taken a journey around townships, you’d notice that you are what you’re wearing. What you wear, if you’re a township dweller must do more than just cover your body. It must tell us the amount of your worth. This obsession of branded clothing has given Spitz and the Carvella brand enormous recognition eKasi.

In townships, the shopping bag you carry must speak in volumes through the name of the store it was manufactured for, the worth of that store enable its bag carrier the ability to walk like a billionaire. Branded clothing is particularly big on males as though with time ladies have caught up and take to indulge in branded wear.

Competition in township is like those small leather-like leggings on big thighs – very tight. The neighbors are always in competition. If one of them has a broken window and chooses to replace it, the next door neighbor will have their window glasses renewed just to prove (usually there’s nothing of value that needs to be proven other than superiority). That’s how important it is, its a superiority game.

As I’ve seen it, the s’khothane movement developed through pressure of the state and level of the competition culture in townships. There was a need to acquire a status and obtain to keep the cup of being not only the best dressed but as the most moneyed individual (or group) too. Township competition is a serious business, people end up in debt and sometimes behind bars, its not a endeavour of lightheartedness.

The s’khothane movement took South African’s by storm. I guess we weren’t aware or maybe chose to ignore the magnitude our greed can transverse. For parents the shock was accompanied by fear of how this newly formed movement will overflow into their own territory, their kids. On the other hand it was due to questions that rose and people wondered how can individuals who are seen as severely disadvantaged have so much money to waste.

S’khothane’s is now a movement by individuals with shared attitudes who believe in a lifestyle and thus engage in activities which fulfill the mandate of who/what they choose to be. If successful (if not already), this movement will manifest as a fully fledged pop culture with more affiliated members, raising the blood sugar levels of many parents in this country.

Contrary to many movements that see its roots on the streets, the s’khothane movement has received the worst most negative media coverage in its rise. I doubt that its partakers were taken aback by this negativity rather they saw it as fuel to continue going and causing more disgust to those who feel the need to rebel against its existence.

As it suggestive that there is nothing doable about young individuals who are encompassed by a movement that’s deteriorating to their success or future, we hope that they with time grow out of its bondages as something of this extreme is beyond bearable in this country. I would also in our waiting and hoping, wish we find the urge to resist negative competition and unnecessary peer pressure that embodies our community.

The grass needs to be stopped from growing under our feet, humanity is an act we have to practice in unison for the sake of what we could achieve tomorrow. The mentality we carry does no justice to our image. We do not only need to be struck dead in our tracks by the horrific encounters of our society, we also need to act upon it.

The s’khothane saga is not a township illness but rather a problem that is staring all of us in the face for answers and we need a well informed approach that will spring positive fruits for us as a nation, for if we’re negligent this non terminal illness will get us out of the frying pan and straight into the fire in a split second.

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