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