After a life of labor, a poor African’s dream is realized: After years of working in South Africa, Samkeliso Moyo, once a girl with no shoes, is on her way to Zimbabwe and her children, carrying her savings and a dream.
This piece by Times staffer Robyn Dixon is absolutely your must-read of the day.
All over Africa, people like Moyo are making their way out of poverty. A report last year by the African Development Bank said the continent’s middle class had tripled in the last 30 years, encompassing one-third of the total population, or 313 million people.
Make no mistake, millions still live in dire poverty, accounting for about a quarter of the population of sub-Saharan Africa, where just 100,000 people hold 80% of the wealth, according to the report. And the bank’s definition of “lower middle class” (anyone earning $4 to $10 a day) and “upper middle class” (anyone earning $10 to $20 a day) underscores how different they are from their Western counterparts.
But the growing middle class has a massive transformative effect on Africa and fuels future growth. As people buy things they need beyond sustenance — clothing, phones, motorcycles, improved housing — they create jobs. By paying school fees, they provide their children with the education to find better jobs and consolidate the family gains.
The report found that “growth of the middle class is associated with better governance, economic growth and poverty reduction. It appears that as people gain middle-class status, they are likely to use their greater economic clout to demand more accountable governments.”
For most of those 313 million Africans, the grinding haul out of poverty is a story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Photo: Samkeliso Moyo’s hard-earned savings from her work as a domestic worker in South Africa enabled her to fulfill her dream of owning a home in her native Zimbabwe. Credit: Robyn Dixon / Los Angeles Times
Artifacts indicate a 100,000-year-old art studio: In South Africa, abalone shells covered with pigment and tools for making paints are found in a cave, suggesting humans began thinking symbolically much earlier than previously recognized.
Photo: Archeologists found evidence of a prehistoric art studio in Blombos Cave in South Africa. Credit: Magnus Haaland
As a boy, William Gumede fought off bullies who saw the books he carried as something for sissies. Now he’s a prominent author, and still struggles with cultural bias against reading.
Photo: Author William Gumede reads his latest book to a rapt audience in Johannesburg, South Africa. Credit: Leon Sadiki, City Press / Gallo Images
In South Africa’s black townships, being gay can be fatal. Noxolo Nogwaza died because she dressed like a man and wasn’t afraid of anyone, friends and backers in Kwa-Thema say, one of the latest of a series of brutal rapes and killings of black lesbian women.
Photo: In South Africa, patrons visit a predominantly gay tavern in Kwa-Thema, east of Johannesburg. Credit: Denis Farrell / Associated Press
South African icon Nelson Mandela hid a gun in the 1960s before his arrest. It hasn’t been found, but when a house was put up for auction, hopes were raised. Parts of the grounds have been excavated and an adjoining property demolished in the search for the historic weapon he buried.
Photo: Liliesleaf Farm in the Rivonia district of northern Johannesburg is where South African icon Nelson Mandela hid out before his arrest in 1962. Credit: Stephane de Sakutin / AFP/Getty Images