White Do-Gooders or Good Doers in an African City?

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Marlize RABE, Department of Sociology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
Ignatius SWART, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Stephan DE BEER, Centre for Contextual Ministry, University of Pretoria, South Africa
More than two decades after the first democratic elections in South Africa, white South African citizens become increasingly aware of their minority status even though many are still in positions of power. In analysing marginalised youth in Pretoria, resource people were interviewed in their organisations’ current roles in promoting social cohesion. A white primary school principal and a pastor in the inner city gave particularly reflective accounts of their life worlds, commitments and the changes in the city over the last two decades in this qualitative research project. The former is heading a primary school with a rich white heritage who now only hosts black pupils due to the larger urban changes since 1994. Many of the pupils live in dire poverty and hence have poor resources at home. Yet the principal’s optimistic account of the children’s future and the difference the mostly white teacher corps bring to the educational experiences is partly fuelled by his religious beliefs and partly by his empathetic way of looking at other people’s lives. The pastor gave an account of innovative practices adopted by the former white church (his main employer) by transforming religious spaces into more utilitarian spaces. Despite the remarkable adaptions and pragmatic approach to engage with aspects such as childcare needs of sex workers and theft of homeless people’s belongings, he is far more pessimistic about the future of the city and the impact that the church may have. Both men are open and honest about their own identity and their place in an African city. Their views and their opinions on their place in the world are discussed within the larger dynamic national and urban contexts.