Don't prioritise one over the other - save rhinos and children: iLIVE - Times LIVE
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Don't prioritise one over the other - save rhinos and children: iLIVE

Gayton McKenzie, President Patriotic Alliance | 2014-04-15 08:43:18.0
Rhino. File photo.
Image by: Bruce Gorton

Gayton McKenzie, President Patriotic Alliance, responds to outrage over the party's stance on how rhinos are being prioritised over coloured people.

When the Patriotic Alliance pointed out last week in my letter to President Jacob Zuma that more young boys, girls, men and women are being shot in coloured communities than the rhino, the response, predictably, from white readers was open outrage.

They shamelessly left messages in the comments sections of online papers openly affirming that the death of one rhino does, in fact, matter more than the deaths of 10 coloured youngsters.

And how dare I say that anything matters more than the conservation of the rhinos?

We don’t hate the rhino. We don’t want the rhino to be wiped out. But the truth is that we don’t care too much either way. Such an attitude shocks comfortable, white, middle-class South Africa to its core. White, middle-class South Africa is educated enough to know what a rare and special creature a rhino is. They know its horns have no medicinal value. They are rich enough to have been on safari in their lives and to have developed an appreciation for nature.

There’s no chance of that ever having happened, or ever happening, for many of the kids born and raised on the flats. They come from the ghetto. They can only start caring for things like the survival of endangered species once they don’t have to struggle for their own survival any more. That’s why the Patriotic Alliance exists: to make a start in saving our kids, not just from bullets but all the things that make those bullets fly… terrible schools, crammed living conditions, evictions, corrupt cops and a ceaseless flood of drugs that started in 1976 already as yet another weapon against the people by an illegitimate government.

No political dispensation has ever made even the slightest dent in this socioeconomic outrage visited upon the first nation of this country.

What shocks me to my core is not the fact that white people perhaps don’t hate coloured people. Perhaps they don’t want coloured people to be wiped out. But the truth is that they don’t care too much either way.

That was the point I was making. Government itself makes protecting the rhino more of a priority. They don’t hesitate to send the army in to save the rhino. But when it comes to saving our people, they just argue about the best way to do it, but end up doing nothing.

When a writer like Bruce Gorton claims that valuing rhinos more than gang victims is an idea resting on “false dilemma, where choosing to neglect our endangered species will lead to a safer South Africa for potential gang victims”, he couldn’t be missing the point more. He goes on to write about Somalia, al Shabaab, Boko Haram and places as far away as China. He says that issues are interlinked and one can’t neglect fighting poaching in order to fight gangsterism. It sounds like a fair point, but we are actually asking: how can one possibly justify prioritising saving the rhino over saving human lives? Do both. Do them both well.

The only way to really save the rhino is to make all of our children care as much about endangered species as children from white families do. But the only way to achieve that is to give them the same opportunities as those white children. One can’t neglect human beings and then expect them to be happy when you save animals.

False dilemma? You tell me.


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