My name is Mike Hampton but most will know me by my blogging name, Wicked Mike. I am an activist, charity worker, web designer and blogger. I’d like to be considered as a community helper but my writings have gained me both supporters and detractors. It’s a contradiction that’s emphasised by falsehoods spread by some of those I oppose. I try to erase misunderstanding whenever I have the opportunity for a face to face conversation because knowing of me is not the same as knowing me. I’ve shone a light, deliberately controversially but with truth, on the shadow areas of Knysna in the belief that problems faced will become problems solved.
This message is prompted out of my love for Knysna which requires me to not only enjoy her but defend her too. As you wouldn’t allow someone to hurt your spouse, your children or your friends, so you shouldn’t allow anyone to hurt your home. What happens to Knysna, in some way, happens to all. With that in mind, we should do our best to ensure that good things happen more.
There’s nothing we can do to improve the world economy that has been so detrimental to tourist-based economies such as ours. With inflation at an artificial low, expenses increasing and debt at unmanageable levels, it is likely that the band-aid that was put on the stock market will tear and our future will become more challenging. This will also affect those with wealth as crime and resentment by the poor increases. It’s already happening. That’s not a doomsayer statement. It’s a statement of reality that needs acceptance so that residents of Knysna work together towards a stable future where children can ride bicycles in the street and we all have the opportunity to retire safely. In that future the result of cultural exchange is understanding. We may have been taught to think differently but we are all human. We all dream of a better life. We all hurt, cry and laugh with joy.
Knysna will strengthen if we commit ourselves to action. Even the smallest effort has more value than criticism from an armchair. Be aware of the world and South Africa but not at an expense to your immediate life and our town. No matter how tragic or angering news about an incident in a faraway city may make you, it will be, more often than not, emotion wasted and your opinion nothing more than a fashion statement. What counts is what we do with the life we see in front of us, the life we live.
Education is key, from knowing who your neighbour is to join your local residents’ association, from helping out a charity organisation to building up a database of who to contact when a problem arises. Importantly, you must know who works for you in local government so that you can commend them when they do a good job as well as ensure that they are accountable to Knysna, earning the salary we pay them. No politician or municipal manager is special. They are a reflection of your will. Unless you have challenged it, you must share responsibility for the constant mismanagement our town has experienced. Their failure is our failure! We must accept education and the consequent action as OUR responsibility.
You can make a difference but it will be tougher to do it alone. Knysna’s greatest handicap may be its island mentality that, at worst, is apathetic, or, at best, a good deed in isolation. An example of the latter would be our wonderful residents’ associations who look after their immediate neighbourhoods. They deserve respect for their efforts but the tragedy is that they can be so much more if they realized common problems that could be solved better if the weight of complaint was shared. As an example, which I’ll repeat later, it’s highly relevant that developers, in collaboration with Knysna Municipality and local politicians (DA, ANC and COPE), were (and are) staking their ill intentions on parts of Knysna. The misdeeds happening to those in Brenton and Belvidere are also happening in Hunter’s Home, Rheenendal and Salt River. Imagine how powerful and effective they/we would be if all the organisations in those areas stood together. It is essential to build bridges between common issues so that all share the road towards the well-being of Knysna.
Knysna’s current state is a failed democracy. The powers that be provide lip service and deaf ears to us. Because we failed to correct them, they have grown arrogant. Maybe the rot started when leaders were elected by members of the public who didn’t even know who they were voting for. Most often, people vote by race, or in fear of race – not for the person behind the mask. Voting for a political party is a vote wasted if you don’t know who is representing you locally and what their agenda for Knysna is (not South Africa). Nationally, they are oxymoronic; the ANC both capitalist and communist depending on who they want to appease; the DA liberal yet it’s foundation substantially made of conservative voters. The ambiguity is understandable when you realise that the politicians tell you what you want to hear rather than what they will actually do.
There are, undoubtedly, good politicians but, unfortunately, I haven’t yet met one in Knysna. I have never experienced COPE, the ANC or the DA stand up for us regards the biggest issues affecting our lives such as corruption in the Municipality and the SAPS, and growing unemployment, drugs and crime. They have a tough job which will never find them satisfying all but that is not an excuse for them deliberately avoiding the most important topics or lying to us about them.
My goal is to make you think without prejudice. To decide right or wrong because it’s right or wrong. To make you applaud the right and stand up against the wrong. My greatest wish is that you, me and everyone else in Knysna become a community. We’ll be stronger together, better for it.
What can we do? We can do a lot! Talking about action is never as good as DOING IT. Here are 30 Ways You Can Help Knysna.