Nelson Letshwene

Author and Speaker



The Family and The Credit Crunch

“If only God would give me some clear sign! Like making a deposit in my name in a Swiss bank account.”

Woody Allen


The family was originally designed to be a warm cosy place where people sharing DNA could stay together and experience life on earth. It was designed to be a support structure to help everyone have their fair share of life’s troubles, and yet know that they are not alone.

Since the commercialisation of the world, I think a lot of things have been lost, and the family is one of the institutions that have suffered the blow. It used to be that the function of the family members was to go out and carry out their fair share of living chores, and come back to tell stories around a fire.

Now the fires are out. We don’t tell stories anymore – we’ve given that job to the TV people. What’s left is strife and survival of the fittest. We are a survival generation. Everyone is doing whatever they believe they need to do to survive, even to the detriment of the family.

When the parents die, the children fight for the leftovers. We are even borrowing money from each other, and woe is you if you are unable to repay your loan to your relative. Quite honestly, I think we have lost our humanity in order to play a game which no one can win. 

So your uncle borrowed money from you. Is that a good reason for you to stop talking to him simply because he is unable to repay you? How could you say your mother owes you money? 

I think lending and borrowing among family members should not be considered as lending and borrowing in a commercial sense. You should not consider your brother to be your debtor or your creditor. Perhaps we should pray that prayer again that said: forgive us our debts as we forgive those who owe us. 

The Jews used to have a thing called the year of Jubilee, which was a year of cancelling debt. I think families should, from time to time, declare the year of jubilee, at which times all debts within the family should be cancelled. We forget who owes who, and we celebrate and have a feast, celebrating our family union. 

I actually think there is no better time than now during this recession. Once the debts within the families are cancelled, the family could get together to figure out what outstanding debt there is with outsiders, and help each other to clear those.

In the book, The Capitalist Nigger, the author speaks of what he calls the Pakistani Web. He says Pakistani families in New York work together to keep their money within their own web. They trade with each other, selling and buying from each other to keep the money in the “family”.  Why can’t we all do that?

Namaste. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome at