South African youth are slowly shaking off a long unwritten law that had their parents support relatives and friends in exchange of similar favors in the futures.
The so called “black tax”– the extra money that black professionals are coughing up every month to support their extended families — has seen several black students from the country’s rural areas pressured to find jobs in the city in order to support their extended family members in the villages.
According to a PRI report, many elite Africans are left with the duty of caring for extended family forever, but the new generation is dealing with this traditional pressure in a different way.
“Patterns of obligations and responsibility among black South Africans are more wide ranging than amongst white South Africans,” Jeremey Seekings, a sociologist at the University of Cape Town, said.
Seekings says: black South Africans are more likely to grow up in an extended-family household, which means more relatives to take care of. But beyond that, there’s the entrenched inequality, poverty and high unemployment that disproportionately affect black South Africans.
Millennial are however breaking off from this “black tax” vicious cycle and are increasingly taking a rare and unpopular step to hide their income or source of income from their relatives.
“We found evidence that young people recognize they have obligations to quite distant kin, but we also found evidence that the strength of those obligations was diminishing over time,” seeking said.
Unemployment in South Africa is estimated at about 25 percent leaving many blacks to depend on their successful relatives living in the cities.
This increased pressure is however making many to have to choose between family and themselves.
Some like Londa Nxumolo, 30, have painfully made a decision to keep their money rather than face “open to abuse” from needy relatives
“I choose to tell very few people about the details of my financial situation. It just suits me to have people in the dark,” Nxumolo said.
Some analysts believe this phenomena is not an exclusively a black peoples problem but a disadvantaged groups issue.
Gerald Mwandiambira, the acting chief executive of the South African Savings Institute, says the term “Black Tax” “tends to be more inclusive of other races. This problem is most common in previously disadvantaged groups, but is equally applicable to other groups.”
Mwandiambira prefer to refer to them as the “sandwich generation” of between 20 and 50 years that are often stuck in the middle of supporting two generations financially and are therefore unable to save adequately for their own needs and retirement.
He believes the recent student protests in South Africa were “a result of the students understanding that their families are already stretched and can no longer afford any increases”.
Source: AFK Insider