clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

ONLINE DOCUMENT: SOUTH AFRICAN VOICES: A BUSINESS OWNER

White middle-class Lasan Perlman, 31, oversees her own small business, employing a seamstress who makes hats and a woman who sells them at markets. She speaks fluent French and has a private pilot's licence. She tells Gaye Davis in Johannesburg about her post-apartheid life.:

"I still feel white guilt - you know, the privileged upbringing, the private school, all that. I have always been aware of those less privileged, and I think the differences between rich and poor are really starting to show now. There was a whole generation of people fighting for freedom, and now they've got it they're lost - because when they were fighting for freedom they should have been in school."Then there's my maid - she treks home to her shack in the bushes and that makes me feel guilty, too. I always give her things. She's only just got electricity.

"I ran away to Botswana to vote in the 1994 election - I hate crowds and couldn't face standing in a queue with the unwashed masses. I voted for the National Party - not because I supported its policies but because I knew the ANC was going to win and felt it would be healthy to have an opposition. I've read Mandela's book ("Long Walk to Freedom") and in it he agrees.

"Mandela? I love him. I'd like him to come to my wedding. If I could, I'd work for his Children's Fund, but I suppose there's a long queue and I don't like queues. Mandela is completely unmotivated by the dodgy things that motivate all the other politicians. I trust him completely.

"With all the crime, I feel less safe now than before. But that's got nothing to do with the new government. I'm not so worried about my car getting stolen - it was, last week - but about having to be locked up in my home.

"What makes my blood boil is all these marches. Very few people know why they're marching and all they do is block the traffic. Sometimes I wonder what I am still doing in Africa, stuck in the traffic."

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)