“We’ve been doing this for years!”

As we celebrate and cheer ourselves on for reducing our water to comply with restrictions [ a good thing – the reducing, not the cheering] many of our eyes are being opened to the reality that for so many people across the country, this has been their reality for always.

Until we know we don’t know.

Should we have known? Perhaps.

Certainly for those of us who have insulated our lives so much that all of our spaces are predominantly white and the only black/coloured/indian/asian people we see are those who are in a service relationship to us [grocery packers, car guards, gardeners, house cleaners], this in a country where white people make up 9ish percent of the population, it actually takes some doing and a certain amount of intentionality [whether personally intended or inherited and never questioned]

Certainly for those of us who have never stepped foot in a township or had an open and honest conversation with a friend or colleague who lives there [i remember hearing a friend tell me he was raised in a house where 30 people shared three rooms and i’m not talking about a three bedroom house either – mind-blowing when you come from a lived experience where each person in your house had their own personal toilet pretty much]

i could go on. We probably should have known, or heard, or been listening [people throwing faeces at a statue might have been a great opportunity for that]… BUT…

We can NEVER say we didn’t know, now.

So if it mysteriously starts raining next week and continues non-stop for three weeks and all the dams somehow return to full capacity and the lives of the privileged and the moneyed return to somewhat normal, the question will be, how far will we each go to fight for everyone’s normal to look a lot more like ours, and what will we be prepared to give up or surrender for that to be so?

This water crisis that Cape Town is going through is definitely a crossroads of sorts – i mean we could definitely go full-blown Kevin Costner Waterworld:

Cape Town Water Crisis Day Zero








Or better yet, we could see this as yet another grace-filled opportunity to step towards… the poor, the marginalised, the formerly and presently oppressed and those who don’t live like us. To see this an as opportunity to listen and to really hear and try to begin to understand how other people live all of the time and to start seeking solutions together to improve the standard of living for all.

[For my sister-in-law Shana’s tips on how to wash/shave/hair/teeth with 5l of water, click here]

[For the Pattendens tips from a family of four’s perspective on how to reduce your water usage, click here]