South Africa: Covid-19 and the Youth of Madundube - a Microcosm of Rural South Africa


My home village of Madundube has two things in abundance: Land that is subject to a poorly defined communal property regime and an assembly-line-like supply of minimally educated youth. The youth are similarly rich in two resources: Time and unrealised productivity. Let's put the two together.

The rural hamlet of Madundube lies about 40km south-west of the Durban CBD along a pothole-riddled dirt track off the Griffiths Mxenge Highway.

Despite being the childhood home and final resting place of founding African National Congress Youth League president Anton Lembede; despite being situated along a thoroughfare connecting the rural hub of Umbumbulu to metropolitan Durban via South Africa's second-largest township, Umlazi, Madundube is woefully underdeveloped. The town is plagued by frequent and protracted but off-schedule power outages (sometimes lasting days at a time), subpar infrastructure even by rural standards, and unemployment. With a population that is 100% black, crippling systemic poverty, limited titled land ownership, gendered division of labour and inequality, the town is a homage to apartheid South Africa and a Struggle veteran's fever dream.

How bad can it be, you ask? Here's a short story to illustrate: some years back, a modest but key bridge at the navel of the...

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