THE BURNING ISSUE
Written by: Mbali Dhlamini
On Monday morning, most South Africans woke up to news that the Cape Peninsula was engulfed in flames. Like many, I underestimated the magnitude of the fire or how long it would actually take for the fire to be put out. It is almost the end of the working week and the fire in Muizenberg has shown us just how powerful Mother Nature can be.
The first thing that came to my mind when I realised how much the situation in Cape Town had escalated was “What would I do if I was in that situation?”
Most of us living in urban areas do not know what steps need to be followed when a fire breaks out, let alone any other natural disaster. What would I save first if I woke up to my home covered in smoke and flames? The biggest losers in this disaster have been those home owners who have had to evacuate the comfort of their own homes, with many still not knowing if their homes are still intact.
Believe it or not there is some good news that has come out from this entire situation. The most amazing thing that I have seen this entire week is the ability of South Africans to come together and hit the ground running when others are in need. We normally report on the brutality and the harsh nature in which we as Africans treat each other on this continent, however we seem to fail to give credit where it is due. Strangers came together in this situation to fight the battle against a force that was bigger than all of us.
We see so much pain and suffering in the news here in this country but we fail to ring bells and whistles when good things happen. I know this is just the nature of the business, however we do need to realise that people actually do like to see the silver lining. I look at the aftermath of the fire and all I see on social media are the negative comments. Some people go as far as saying they do not understand why we are making a big deal about the fire when no people were killed in the incident.
The issue of race has also made a candid appearance in the comments with the “Twitteratti” saying the only reason why this is a headline story is because it affects rich white people. Correct me if I am wrong but last year I saw huge media coverage over the Kya Sands fires which mostly affected black people living in a squatter camp in Gauteng. Corporate SA and other ordinary citizens took it upon themselves to go out there and help the people of Kya Sands. Where was the race card then?
I really believe South Africans are generally good people who care about the well being of others. However this has been overshadowed by our need to elbow our way to the top at the expense of others. We class ourselves so much that the divisions that we have created within our very own society have become our biggest downfall. We are friends, parents, sisters, brothers and so much more, yet every situation that arises only leads us to further criticize one another.
I have a new found respect for the men and women in uniform, who went into this situation head first and literally averted a disaster which could have turned into a catastrophe. No lives were lost after a week of flames in Cape Town and someone out there deserves a medal for that.