Let us rein in materialism

COLONIALISM, whether by Roman, Portuguese, Afrikaner, Bantu or English people, was cruel and greedy. The worst injury is the damage to people's self-respect.

COLONIALISM, whether by Roman, Portuguese, Afrikaner, Bantu or English people, was cruel and greedy. The worst injury is the damage to people's self-respect.

In our case many black Africans have aspired to the colonialists' materialism and largely neglected their own wonderful concept of ubuntu.

So how do we proceed for our collective good? Black and white have their virtues and faults. We must take the best from both. We can't afford out-of-control materialism of our environment, not only the monetary cost. I hail Zwelinzima Vavi's call to end crass materialism and opulence.

Young people, particularly parents, must have an understanding of why we are in this situation and what we must do about it. Parents and teachers must inculcate self-respect, confidence and responsibility to themselves, others and the environment.

Black people have been severe- ly disadvantaged and are, with the rest of us, bombarded from a very young age by a materialistic society, which first creates needs and then persuades us that we will be acceptable only if we have the latest car, clothes, cellphone and so on.

We are "consumer-fodder" for businesses that care only about their bank accounts. I'm not saying that we should not have any pretty things or own only what we absolutely need, but we must have a sense of balance.

Parents, teachers, other role models and youth should sport last year's cellphone and clothes as a badge of honour to show that we are not led by the nose to constantly buy and buy simply because advertisers say we should. Young people should be encouraged not to follow blindly whatever is not good. The struggle is not over. Let's think about the situation and hold our politicians and businesses to account.

Cynthia Pein, Observatory

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