OPINION | Donate R500k to a charity of his choice? Just give the man that money, Shelly!
There are so many things wrong with the way Nkosikho Mbele’s good deed has been handled, but the biggest is the indication that Shell, the company for which he works, clearly has no idea of what his reality is as a black South African. Even more disturbing is that it appears it may not care.
Mbele gained instant fame when his good deed went viral. This after Monet van Deventer took to Facebook to express her gratitude to him for having helped her out with R100 to fill up her car with fuel after she forgot her purse at home. What happened from that point on, the crowd-funding that kept growing, was a result of an inspired nation and it was beautiful to watch.
Then it turned into something else ... an opportunity to exploit a man with a good heart.
I want to make it clear that I am not working on the assumption that Mbele doesn’t know any better, which I presume is the underlying logic of the people whose motives I am about to question.
It only took a few hours for things to move from inspirational to cringe-worthy. Not only did people show up wanting to dictate how Mbele spends his money, others realised that the media attention surrounding him could be profitable for them and ran with it.
This wouldn’t be bad, except that, so far, there has been no evidence of any desire to empower the man. And that is the saddest part.
After the media hype dies down, Mbele will return to his daily struggles. He will most likely see no actual change in his life. Not a few renovations to his home or a little car to take him from A to B. His salary will probably remain the same, even though it is probably way too little for a man to survive on.
Of course, he will have a couple of thousand for his children’s education, but he’ll still tend to cars he’ll never afford and will not have any prospect of substantially changing his life.
Then they want him to donate R500,000 to the charity of his choice … Really?
First, for all the great publicity the company has received, that amount of money should be doubled. Second, why is it that no one in the company saw it fit to gift Mbele with shares in the organisation or use this opportunity to empower him, like offer him courses or training to help him move up in the company?
This opportunity could have been used to change this man’s life, create a prospect of generational wealth for him. And if this is too much to ask, the least it could have done is match the money raised through the crowd-funding initiative and given it to him
Donate to charity? That is nonsense!
I say this because if anybody had bothered to touch base with reality, they would know that Mbele's charity is probably at home. They would know that that amount of money could have gone a long way to helping him and his family.
I don’t know Mbele, but I know that, as black people, we have so much catching up to do. That R500,000 would probably be spent just helping close family out of debt, sending children to school or acquiring a decent house. That money won’t help extended families who probably need financial help. That money isn’t enough for one to consider things like investing or starting a business.
Perhaps the employer had good intentions … perhaps this is not exploitation, but merely a lack of research. Perhaps.
It doesn’t seem Mbele needs a lesson in philanthropy. The man is clearly a giver. I mean, to give when you actually don't have much to give, and it means nothing, is rare. Mbele, like most petrol attendants I’ve met, represent the kind of ubuntu we all aspire to.
Now, if only the people around him would stop trying to use him for personal gain and profit, and actually take a page out of his book.