Self promotion: The dark side of charity

Written by on September 13, 2017

In my work as a journalist for the last five years, I have had the privilege of interviewing many interesting, affluent people.

I will not use this opportunity to name drop, but I will point out that my interaction with the man in the video, Gerard, was the opposite of these.

I get a lot of flak for my sometimes controversial opinions, regarding social norms. I recently did a vlog on my own blog Facebook page, discussing a post that went viral, which involved an ‘act of charity’.

Now, my issue was not necessarily that an act of charity was performed.

Charity is necessary.

What I found noteworthy, and absolutely cringe-worthy, was the need for the act of charity to be shared with the world (wide web).

And this started an internal discussion, that there is a trend on social media, with self-proclaimed philanthropists documenting all of their good deeds.

Now, as this is an opinion piece, my opinion is that showing yourself feeding another human being is tacky, (and several other negative words that come to mind.)

Regarding the backlash from my rant about self-serving ‘humanists’, (yes, I am aware of the irony), I realized that as much as I want to speak on every issue that upsets me, having a large platform doesn’t necessarily make me the authority on any issue I discuss.

So I asked an expert on the subject.

Gerard is a 55-year old man, who begs and lives on the streets of Milnerton. He agreed to speak to Hashtag Radio on camera.

I asked him several difficult questions, but what I was interested in knowing was “how does it feel when someone helps you, and then photographs it?”

His answer spoke volumes. The look on his face was the most informative, though.


Gerard and I met in 2015, when he was the car guard outside of my office building. In the interview he touches on his childhood, his elderly mother, and how people treat him when he asks for money.

I refer to him as uncle, because in the coloured community that I was raised in, this is respectful. Calling an older man by his name just doesn’t sit right with me, even if by the world’s standards, he isn’t ‘affluent’ or important.


The chat is very up and down, and is neither here nor there, but it certainly is a glimpse into a certain type of life that we sometimes forget is being lead by people with wants, needs, dreams and feelings. They also have thoughts, and contrary to popular belief aren’t ”used to the streets’.



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