When I worked in Cape Town, I had the privilege of interviewing people living in the N2 Gateway community on a monthly basis. During that time I had the opportunity to see first-hand examples of reckless spending, due to lack of financial information. I saw babies wearing expensive sneaker brands whilst their parents could not afford to buy them a decent education.
In 2016, Debt Rescue, CEO, Neil Roets reported to Business Tech, that a lot of the people who come to them in need of financial rescue stated that, most of their household income was spent on “luxuries and non-essentials.”
I have seen homeowners living in government housing willing to part with R 919.00 per month just to pay DSTV premium thinking that it’s a good deal because it’s a two-year price lock.
Think about this for a moment, at the end of 24 months they part with R 22 056.00. This is money that could have been put away on a tax-free savings account. But instead, they choose to spend it consuming imported entertainment content, which the majority of it is junk food for the brain.
Now I am not saying DSTV is bad or people should not watch what they want but I am highlighting the level of financial illiteracy in our country which leads to wasted family resources. The same financial illiteracy which makes many victims of unplanned and unnecessary purchases.
The South African consumer is currently losing a battle against increased interest rates, unwanted debt, job discontent, unemployment and over expenditure, and the last thing we need on our shores is another cruel marketing tactic to pimp the backs of the underpaid and uninformed consumer.
I personally rejected Black Friday the day it came to our country because it encourages consumerism and feeds the stereotype that says – Africa is an ignorant continent with buying power, we have muscles that we keep using to punch ourselves with it.
My view is that, if we are to import anything from the global community, it should be the culture of entrepreneurship – this teaches self-sustenance and financial independence. I have always argued that the ordinary South African can benefit a lot from our brothers coming from neighbouring African countries. Entrepreneurship does not depend on a degree. Stories like that of Cosmas Maduka, a Nigerian entrepreneur which was featured in the Forbes Africa, November issue proves that. But to be self-sustaining demands a willingness to be an apprentice to someone whose culture is infused with working for themselves.
On Twitter, alcohol topped the list when it came to the most requested Black Friday products from Checkers. Black Friday and many other promotions like it such as Christmas sales or “Dezemba promotions” as they are now called buy our youth are an open pathway to perpetual personal poverty.
If you don’t believe me check the stats on America’s consumer debt. If their debt can reduce a first world country like theirs into what it is today. What do you think increased impulse purchase campaigns like Black Friday will do to our already miserable economy?
Going forward, I would like to encourage us to think before we before we follow trends.
In the words of Damian Marley;
“Africa must wake up…for what tomorrow may bring, may a better day come, yesterday we were kings, can you tell the young ones – who are we today?”
If you missed part 1 of this article: Click here