As you popped your two pieces of bread into the toaster for breakfast this morning, could you ever imagine not being able to afford this basic nourishment? Could you believe that people could die asking for cheaper bread?
This is what is happening in our neighbouring country Mozambique. According to News24 people are rioting, burning tyres and looting shops in protest of the rising bread price. BBC reports that prices have risen by as much as 30% as the Mozambican currency has fallen against the strengthening South African rand. Wheat prices have also been escalating world wide.
Mozambican media has reported that the police opened fire on protesters and that six people were killed yesterday. But the police confirmed only four deaths, and said 142 people had been arrested and 27 wounded. Police have however, admitted that two children were among those killed.
News24 quote Horatio Antonio, a 45-year-old unemployed man, saying “People are angry because prices are going up: petrol, rice, water, electricity, everything.”
It is a trend that is happening throughout Africa at the moment. In Kenya, Somalia and Egypt there have been protests regarding the rising cost of living.
In South Africa, citizens have also been left to the mercy of Eskom’s price hikes, which is making electricity extremely expensive.
If people do not have bread to eat, something is seriously wrong in a country. The story goes that just before the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette responded to the starving population’s cries for bread by saying: “Let them eat cake”, showing the inability of the aristocracy of the time to identify with the lot of the ordinary person. The Revolution took place to create equality between people and to prevent this from ever happening again.
But it seems that history is repeating itself. No longer is there an aristocracy, but there is an elite class that controls wealth in countries. Corruption persists and producers collude to push up prices. What has happened to ubuntu?