Saturday 25 January 2020

It is wrong to do nothing in the name of frugality

• Kevin Myers, in my opinion, you must be a fool. Have you ever been to South Africa? By the sounds of your shallow and bigoted article you have never visited our beautiful and stricken land.

Yes, we live in a land of contrasts. We have ultra-rich and those dying of hunger living in the back alleys of their very mansions.

We have AIDS and TB and malaria and shocking government hospitals.

We also have some of the most advanced medical research happening in those very hospitals – organ transplants in people living with HIV, for example.

We have drugs, gangsterism, witchcraft, crooked politicians, misuse of public funds, an unemployment rate which defies rationality, and a somewhat misguided – democratically elected – leadership.

We have one of the most poorly rated education systems in Africa, let alone the world – and the first African ever to travel into space.

We have a democracy which, if it were a person, would not be considered a legal entity – not yet 21. And yet you expect us to be grown up.

Our teenage, hormonal, oppositional and misunderstood phase must be hopscotched. All of this so as not to contradict your Irish mantra of "let's not give to the poor, let's stay home and do nothing".

Our position is a by-product of years of a struggle for freedom, and against oppression. Of all nations in the world, one would think, an Irishman should be able to empathise with these conditions.

Yet you belittle our democracy, our struggle, our fight for freedom, our Madiba and our long walk to freedom.

You trivialise our desperation and the thousands of lives lost in the name of freedom. And most of all you degrade Irish charity and good works, as well as your own name.

You are spewing out dogmatic propaganda.

Why give to Africa? Let her die, see the suffering in the children's eyes and stand by.

Hear the aged cries of weariness and worry, and choose to do nothing in the name of frugality.

Niall Mellon is a good man, with a kind, gentle and giving nature. He is doing good work and completely changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people living in abject poverty. Hopefully you have made the time to meet with him and you are finding that out for yourself.

And finally, giving, for the sake of bettering another man's life, is still giving, no matter where you do it and by what name you call it.

In South Africa we call it ubuntu – my children are your children. We are leaving a legacy behind. Are you?

With great sadness,

Lucy Ward
Hillcrest, Durban, South Africa

Irish Independent

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