Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mindspace: Marginalisation

Apart from the obvious fun and adventure that accompanies my ownership of a Gomoto, it also holds some symbolic value.

I choose to drive a Gomoto, in stead of a car. I do this because I cannot afford to buy a car. I used to own a car, but the maintenance and insurance was just too much. The Gomoto is one of the most inexpensive bikes on the road. It is one of the smallest ones. It uses very old technology compared to the Hondas and Yamahas of today. Somehow the Gomoto symbolises my experience of being marginalised in society.

Now this is not a reactionary political rant. I've always been rather liberal politically. (I think I was the only White man who voted for the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania in the 1999 general elections, although I have since then rejected their political views because they obviously do not really live up to the "Pan" in their Azanianism by regarding some Africans as more African than others.) I strongly support the attempts to counteract the undeniable structural bias that still exists in the South African economy towards white people.

The fact is that there are many levels where I often find myself on the threshold of society. Financially, I am not in a high income bracket (I chose the wrong career) and according to my calculations my real income has dropped in the last 4 or 5 years, in stead of escalating. Politically I am not in the main stream. Philosophically I often find myself at odds with what the people "in power" hold to be true.

And in a strange way, owning a Gomoto embodies the sum-total of this awareness of being on the margins.

To me this is not necessarily a negative observation. Being a bit of a revisionist of Marxist theory, I do not believe that my life and my identity is determined (imposed upon me without my consent) by those who are wealthier, or more powerful than me. To me there is much to be said for being on the margins. Being on the margins is like standing on a threshold, about to exit an existence that is oppressive and depressing. Looking at/anticipating/inviting the wide open space out there.

When I think of being on the margin, I think of other words, like doorway, leading edge, facing forward. And I like what Stephen Toulmin says about such things:
Those who choose to face forward into the future are our pioneers, prophets, creatives, dreamers, explorers, intuitives, risk-takers, artists, and imaginers. They anticipate the future in the present. They shape and form that future. They create possibilities for the future by living fully in the present. They learn from the past but they don’t live in and for the past. They surf the leading edge of the wave.

(The original context in which I read this quote is here).

What better way to go searching for these values and attributes than exploring the countryside of South Africa with a somewhat marginalised Gomoto 125cc motorbike.

1 comment:

Wayne said...

I wanted to jot down a few thoughts in dialogue on your blog post. Mindspace: Marginalisation.

I am curious about the identity that you are storying. As I read your post and reflected on the paths you have chosen for yourself, I became curious about how you use the term "marginalisation" as a means of empowerment. Usually, people speak of being marginalised as a negative and soul destroying experience, but your blog is not about that. Rather, you speak almost excitedly about your identity of the margins and how your relationship with your gomoto reflects this. What is it about the margins that empowers you? Is this something unique? Or is this something that others might experience too?

You mention that your gomoto uses "very old technology" does this reflect who you are in any way? I am wondering if perhaps it is your way of suggesting that while you find empowerment and strong identity in the margins, you still find security in values and perhaps even heritage, that has stood the test of time? What do you think?

This is not to say that there is a contradiction here. Hardly. It is just something that I am curious about...

Think about it. Let's chat.