iman mkhwanazi, khayelitsha, khayelitsha fire, iman mkwanazi khayelitsha,

On Sunday, I learnt, through screenshots of a vile, antagonistic and anti-poor series of tweets from one Iman Mkhwanazi, that there was a fire in Khayelitsha. I saw the picture momentarily, what looks like hundreds of shacks wiped out. Iman Mkhwanazi was responding to someone tweeting "Help Khayelitsha like you helped Knysna." Far from an inflammatory statement. Why would someone disagree with helping people who were woken up in the early hours by a tragic fire? I can only guess what moghel was going for, "devil's advocate" springs to mind. Her first tweet was "Why?" The original post rightfully assumes ignorance and tweeted Iman Mkhwanazi a picture of the devastation saying "This happened".  Surely no one who'd seen the news of the fire would be argumentative about Khayelitsha needing assistance. Boy was the original poster wrong. Iman Mkhwanazi tweeted them back saying "I'm aware of what happened." I read that first sentence like Okay, sharp. Then why are we here? Iman Mkhwanazi's tweet continued "I just want justification for the entitlement within the statement."

I'm sorry? 

Reports say five hundred homes were lost, displacing over two thousand people. Someone died in the fire. A call to rally and gelp this community seen as entitled? We can't not dichotomise because this whole country is one long experiment in dichotomy.

And also, who is she? Did she personally send aid to Knysna or amplify all the calls for assistance? Is this just her coming out to say she will withhold her personal donations and amplification regarding this specific disaster? All because she didn't like the tone of someone's tweet?  Or was she never going to think of Khayelitsha deserving of assistance, regardless? This country is extremely unequal but the fact that someone believes that aid is doled out on merit, that we can't demand it, reveals someone living a nice life away from the cesspool that is this ugly country.

Using our voices in advocating for the Khayelitsha community is one way we ensure that the community isn't just another story on the front page of the newspaper for a few days until we fleet on to the next ugly thing. What the Iman Mkhwanazis of life see as entitlement from people who are insisting that those with money and resources not look away from the tragedy is something else. Something more sinister. We are all banding together to beg and shame businesses and the government to show ubuntu. And if we don't, if we are neutral and say the government and individual business people have the right to choose to not show tangible support, Khayelitsha will continue to be overlooked as it has been for the past nearly 25 years.

In a fair world, what Knysna got should a no-brainer for the rest of the country. If you are able to drum up support for a community so affluent most property owners likely have insurance policies (the fire is said to have also destroyed 45 RDP houses) but need two thousand-word letters of motivation for other communities, question your motives. Most people are here shouting loudly for the residents of Khayelitsha because this tragedy can easily be overlooked and treated as business as usual. 

If we choose silence, if we cower so that we don't across as entitled, the longer survivors will be left to languish. Tents will be kept up for longer than the first few hours. Soon enuf, the survivors would end up going into debt to rebuild so they can move on. Until the floods or the next fire. The situation in Khayelitsha shouldn't have happened, the concept of of "informal settlements" should be extinct. But the residents have made something of it, as we do everywhere. And, in the end, they will rebuild too. They will carry on -- even the family that lost someone. But why should those who can make it easy not do it?

It's telling whose humanity and worthiness of empathy must be justified. In some instances, it's a no-brainer to rally and help, in others, everyone has to grovel and beg. We have to justify why it's morally right, why it's not optional. 

It has been four days since the fire. The residents of Khayelitsha are still rebuilding. Matric exams started yesterday and the children from that community either missed that paper or wrote with the weight of that fire on their minds. Whether or not you believe the survivors are not "entitled" to any help, they will find a way and --soon enuf -- the news cycle will change. 

The picture was taken by The City of Cape Town. I hope they've than more that just take a picture.

Where to donate:

The Gift of The Givers was one of the first organisations to lend a hand

Here's a bank account. Anything will make a dent
Gift of the Givers 
Standard Bank 
Pietermaritzburg 
Account Number: 052137228 
Branch Code: 057525
Ref: Khayelitsha 

Students at a few of the universities in the city are doing personal collections (clothes, pads, food, blankets etc). I have been looking online since Sunday for individuals fundraising themselves to rebuild their own lives in the area but have come up empty. If you have seen any, please share so I can put them here.

Ngeke sizwe ngoIman Mkhwanazi.