An ad on Jacaranda FM proclaims that ‘we South Africans know what it’s like to be hungry’. After which it went on to promote eating out, stakes, ribs, king prawns and whatnot at Tuscan BBQ, one of the many franchises in South Africa.
When cycling back from Pineslopes, one 10 or so malls within five minutes cycling, filled with franchises but no Tuscan BBQ, one particular crossing is always filled with people. When I noticed this for the first time, I wondered what was going on, but the third time or so, a white guy with a bakkie stopped in the middle of the group, after which everyone started walking or even running towards the guy. He was offering work, the locals were waiting at the street corner for day jobs to come their way.
At this crossing, today, while I was waiting for the light to change, Martin asked me if I didn’t have any work for him. ‘At home, I am hungry. I am 100% hungry. Don’t you have any work for me, boss?’ I didn’t. We already have a maid, which I like to be female anyway.
So when I heard the Tuscan BBQ ad, I thought something interesting was coming up because, indeed, many South Africans do go hungry. I don’t think Martin will be going to Tuscan any time soon.
The cost of living has increased significantly over the past years, here in South Africa. For one, you would be excused to assume prices would have gone down based on the current exchange rate of the Rand. A few years ago, the Rand went for 11 or 12 to the dollar. Now it’s only six and a bit. So, you would think that anything coming from abroad must now be much cheaper than before.
I’m not really sure if imported products are cheaper now, but I do know that groceries, whatever brand you get, are friggin expensive. And according to many of the locals, the cost of living has increased significantly over the past years.
It’s strange, how you can get a decent dinner at a restaurant for as little as 3 euros, 9 if you splurge. Meanwhile, getting some fresh vegetables, rice or potatoes and some meat (which is in fact the cheapest ingredient) from a supermarket would easily set you back 6 to 10 euros, per person. So why cook?
Anyway, my guess why prices have increased so much is the quickly growing black middle class. So many people are earning more and more, not only can prices go up based on the amount of money people have to spend, the people who slowly are becoming middle class, are earning more and more, meaning that the products with which their salaries need to be earned back also need to get more expensive.
During the weekend, Betsy and I did some shopping. We spent a bit over 50 euros. Would we have gotten the same at an average Dutch supermarket, it wouldn’t have been much more expensive, except probably for the bread, which is relatively cheap over here. But would have shopped at the Lidl, for sure we would have spent less in Holland.
While getting some extra biltong, a black guy walked up to the cigarette counter and asked for some smokes. He was carrying his shopping in three plastic bags: Two large sacks of mealie meal (corn flower, used to make pap, fufu, xima, sadza, whatever you call it) and one very large bottle of cooking oil. We had sweetbread, fresh orange juice, a braaipack, and whatnot. That’s the poverty gap right there.
Meanwhile, I’m clearing 9-footers on double on DDR 5th. Now that’s another poverty gap right there.