ReaGilè in South Africa’s townships
Tracing the design and development of a ‘small’ idea for life-size community upliftment
ReaGilè (pronounced ‘Ree-e-gee-le’) is a Southern Sotho word meaning ‘We Have Built’. The phrase suggests dialogic praxis, negotiation, self-reliance and popular participation in the radical, humanising Freirean sense. In this paper, this term is the name of a project that brings the theme of development into sharp focus. ReaGilès are pre-fabricated, self-contained, education and entertainment complexes situated on a 400m² site at local schools or public open spaces consisting of a 60 seat cinema theatre, 30 seat computer and internet centre, community care aid centre and community policing centre. These complexes are planned to service historically under-serviced South African townships, peri-urban and rural areas and help create jobs, especially amongst the youth, women and the disabled.
Based on the philosophy that money and wealth cannot be taken from the poor to give to the rich, and applying a dialogic strategic partnership co-operative model, each ReaGilè co-op will provide auditorium and computer education facilities to township and rural schools, be owned and run by 27 local community members, provide a basic salary, medical-aid and an equitable share of all distributable profits to each member/employee, give preference to women, youth and the disabled, structure prices affordable to each community, offer free sport, edutainment, community news and adverts on 5 outdoor screens and be financed through government, other grants and/or term loans. This paper outlines the ReaGilè idea and its implementation in South Africa from a community development point of view, discussing its implications both for the community services industry value chain and job creation. It also uses the ReaGilè concept to problematise the notion of ‘development’ and ‘youth and development’.