My concern is two-fold. Firstly, it is the poor and poverty-stricken that suffer most acutely. I took friends on a visit to Grahamstown East last week. Mountains of unremoved litter and raw sewage flowing into streams unsightly in the extreme and, more worryingly, a severe health and environmental hazard. The municipality is failing the poor and putting lives at risk.
Secondly, their failure is constricting the life-blood of the Grahamstown economy. Education (and associated edu-tourism) is Grahamstown’s main employer. A senior educator relayed the comments of a potential parent. “I love your school but I can’t do Grahamstown”. This affects all. The poverty-stricken and the affluent.
I trust the ANC Eastern Cape / National government will act with urgency. They’d do well to solicit the views of thousands of affluent parents flowing into Grahamstown in the coming weeks. The St Andrew’s College / DSG Balloon Week and Kingswood’s Parent’s Week are important income generators for Grahamstown. Imagine Grahamstown without that influx of cash? Empty guest-houses etc, more joblessness, more poverty, more hopelessness. And then imagine the inverse.
I’m looking forward to Balloon Week and relaying the story as it unfolds. Yes, it’s a privileged affair but it celebrates much that is exceptional in our precious little city. To put matters into perspective, join me on a visit to Grahamstown East – incl. the historic St Philips Church (1860) and the Egazini Battle Memorial (1819). Departing from The Highlander at 3pm sharp, Tuesday 9 October.
And then back at The Highlander at 5pm I’ll be hosting a discussion and sharing more about The Grahamstown Project. A status update and next steps in The Grahamstown Project’s collaborative efforts to achieve a high-functioning small city. RSVP for both events essential. 083 271 0279 or Graeme@TheGrahamstownProject.com
To conclude. In my view, the journey ahead is arduous and long but the forces of good will triumph. Persistence and perseverance required. But a thought to ponder. Even with a well-managed, cash-flush municipality, the priority of government will be (and should be) the less privileged in our community. Yes, ensuring pothole-free streets and manicured parks is important but we cannot have people living eternally in squalor and without hope. Public-private partnerships and privately funded initiatives will always be imperative to, in the first instance, #saveourcitygrahamstown and ultimately achieve prosperity for all.
See the video and sign the petition here.
Before moving back to Grahamstown in Oct 2017, Graeme was a bank executive based in the big smoke and craziness of Joburg. He has 20 years’ experience in the Payments Industry. He is a Chartered Accountant, has a Masters in Management by Research (MMR) from Wits Business School, and attended an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) offered by INSEAD (The Business School for the World!) in France.
Graeme is the founder of The Grahamstown Project. It’s simple. He says, “Grahamstown is a microcosm of South Africa. If we can’t get this place to function properly then the whole country is stuffed. Many of the troubles we experience as a country today have their roots here in Grahamstown. it is here where black and white people first engaged in conflict on the African continent. It is here where 9 wars of dispossession over 100 years took place and virtually destroyed the amaXhosa nation. But we are where we are. I don’t have a British passport and the boat-trip back to where my ancestors came from is exorbitantly expensive. Furthermore, this is my home. I am a son of Africa. We must work together to redress the injustices of the past and move as one into a brighter future.”
Graeme is an avid historian, writer, vlogger and public speaker. Like and follow the Facebook page. Join him on a tour. Contact him. He would love that.