Human Capital

People can take almost everything from you. They can take away your right to vote, they can take your clothes, your house, hell even your pride. People can break you down and grind you to powder. However, one thing people can’t take away from you – is your knowledge.

Human capital is the true answer to a poverty-stricken country like ours. People with various skills and high levels of education are what we need. You can teach people how to fish, but what about teaching people how to make these fishing nets?

The other day some political figure from some youth league (oops did I give it away? No? Okay let’s continue then…) said: “Nationalisation of mines and expropriation of land without compensation should be attained as the means to an end of poverty…”

Moving millions of people onto farms will not end poverty. Relocation is NOT the end of poverty #Facepalm.  What will they do with those lands – I don’t really see the poor using farms as a tool for agricultural production. I think expropriation will only lead to many informal settlements with 5-star vistas, a horde of pissed-off farmers, less foreign direct investment (probably the most important) and an even bigger brain drain. Maybe education can end poverty, I don’t know, just putting it out there. Maybe less Mercedes Benzes and more primary education facilities can end poverty. Maybe better salaries for teachers and better discipline in schools can end poverty. Maybe less nepotism and more competent people are needed in important positions (put all synonyms for ‘important’ in this bracket, because it can’t be stressed enough how bloody important it is to have competent people doing the right job). Maybe we need fewer family trusts and more education trusts. To me it feels that we are stuck in a phase of ‘liberation before education’.

When you frog leap to the top of the mountain, you don’t know how to actually get there (you don’t know the paths leading up the mountain side), and thus you leave people at the base of the mountain (and you can’t explain to them how to reach the top) while you sip champagne out of glasses made through the efforts of broken bodies, blood, sweat and tears.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely…” – John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton.

 

Champagne

 

This sweet nectar, we slowly sip

   After bloody battles, sweat, tears

Oppression is gone, and the fears

   Our spoons in diamonds we now dip

 

On our mountain, glorious vista!

   Where are our people, though?

Our lawn, somebody must mow:

   To pour more drink in this crystal

 

The trails we forgot to the base

   We have more pressing matters:

We need to keep sweet this batter

   Can you remember a forlorn face?

 

The face of an exploited man

   Becomes vague with this nectar

The memory seems to grow dull, far

   We like to talk; the new breed of artisan

 

This sweet nectar, we slowly sip

   Where are the warriors of yesterday:

This mountain of peace won in the fray

   Alas, blind avarice: our wings clipped

 

Francois Hermanus Steyn – August 2011

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