Spatial arrangement is indeed the truest reflection of the society. The way how we live and where we live shows who we are, what we believe in and what factors influence our choices. Such a belief made me continue the theme of gated communities, which this time has brought me to absolutely different frontiers.
It is for these major reasons that people put up electrified fences on top of their garden walls, do not stop at stoplights with a fear of carjack and invent all sorts of gadgets, like “flame throwers” against criminals. The gated community is a more or less secure bubble in a racially and socially segregated society and the daily life passes in moving fast from one to another such place with no stop in between.
Seen in such context the gated community in South Africa is not as much a question of class division, consumerism, fetish or elite lifestyle, as the lifestyle according to the color of skin. Here one should not be deceived by the fact that the Apartheid is over. The colonial legacy has “justified” the hatred of black population towards the Whites and the post-Apartheid period fuelled it even worse. Even since the end of Apartheid, only five thousand of South Africa's 35 million black citizens earn more than $60,000 a year, while the number of Whites in that income bracket is twenty times higher, and many earn far more than that amount. Since 1994, under the white dominated economy and black government enforcing neo-liberal policies, the number of people living on less than $1 a day has doubled; In 2006, more than one in four South Africans lived in shacks located in informal shantytowns.
But despite these hardships, there is the promised freedom for Black and Colored South Africa. Those, who have been the victims of colonial policies, got a chance to score off. The Whites who were the authors of segregation regime and who distanced themselves from the rest of the population through their mass resettlements and clearance of the White Zones, now find themselves trapped in the very system that they have devised. The gated zones are a clear target of violence and crime, which is often supplemented by the ignorance or harassment by the police.
In the post-Apartheid “Rainbow Nation” the racial discrimination and oppression are formally over. This formality implies that there is no mention about vindictive discrimination against white population and no complain about the continuing exploitation of the black labour, which never saw the re-distribution of wealth, promised by the Freedom Charter. This formality assigns the status - Apartheid Victim to the Black that transcends to generations and seems to last forever no matter what faults or crimes may be committed by its holders. All this has damaged the mentality of people no less than the Apartheid did. It has mingled the judgment of write and wrong, it has taken away the reality through the dazzling “compassion” of international aid. The black population of South Africa indeed remains as impoverished and exploited as ever, but now it is empowered with an illusion of freedom and the status of Victim Forever that gives birth to unrestrained behavior and violence.
Looking at the future perspectives the vicious circle seems closed: as the actual victims and witnesses of the Apartheid grow older, the new generation, grown up in the post-Apartheid period, finds itself in a worse situation, because the legitimized racial oppression which was popularly condemned at international level, has changed into an economic slavery which, tagged with the democracy label, is rather deliberate and not as unacceptable for international community. This is a system which produces new victims, but this time they are faceless and voiceless as they are not exotic anymore, but ordinary slaves, kind of which are abundant all over the world. The result is that the people deceived and disappointed in their greatest expectations and have nothing to loose, do not care about formal law and justice. The old status of Apartheid Victim is a sole comfort when choosing the new way of life – crime, chaos, hatred.