More and more parts of the Hermanus suburb of Zwelihle are starting to resemble a refugee camp – and as is the case with refugees worldwide, locals often harbour the hope of refugees leaving again.

But, uncomfortable as this makes us, these thousands of shack dwellers are here to stay. And once they have roofs over their heads, demands for what could be termed decent living conditions (such as running water, electricity and sanita-tions) are bound to be followed by a need for employment and access to public facilities (such as clinics, hospitals and schools).

The above paragraph spells out the obvious. The proverbial writing is on the wall and the truth is Hermanus will never be the same again. One may well label the above facts “An inconvenient truth” (the title of an American documentary of yes-teryear) and accept the harsh present-day reality.

A philosopher once observed a vanished society in the following way: “They perished not for a lack of reason, but for a lack of vision.” May this never be said of this vibrant community, with so much expertise, potential and goodwill. Unfortu-nately, and sadly so, the local democratically elected leaders on both sides of the spectrum have, to a large extent, lost both face and support. On one side of the divide, the officially elected leaders fled from those who had elected them. Whereas, on the other end of the spectrum, those in authority (at both municipal and council level) seem to be locked into little more than mere knee-jerking leadership. It is a great pity that the pending 2019 provincial and national elections do not include a local government component, as a newly elected Town Council for the Overstrand may well have heralded not only new dynamics and a sense of hope, but also a more liberated and integrated mindset.

What used to be called “the fisherman’s village of Hermanus” is no more. We are a community in crisis; a place out of con-trol; a society divided by both wealth and race; inhabitants who find post-apartheid inclusivity difficult to accept; citizens who do not match demands with responsibility and with whom respect for public property is not a given. How could it be, when the Christian faith is being practiced on both sides of the chasm, that the peace of God seems to evade us? And while there are reasons and arguments aplenty, why do vision and love lag so far behind?

Writer: A voice crying in the wilderness

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