We Need More Tables by Norma Young

Poverty isn’t always a jumble of appalling statistics. Sometimes there are names, faces and stories to the numbers. It’s a cousin who’s finished high school but doesn’t have enough money to job hunt. It’s a colleague whose hand to mouth living still only gets her through half the month because her salary is just not enough. It’s a grandfather who worked for decades and got a retirement package so paltry he can’t pay his monthly bills.

When people you know and love are behind the data of impoverishment, it can be hard to determine how to help. It can be even harder to settle on how much to help without compromising on your own quality of life.

In We Need More Tables, Norma Young provides guidance on how to find a balance between alleviating poverty and yet maintaining a measure of the privilege one may have been born with. By exploring assumptions such as the myth of hard work and the fallacy of meritocracy, as well as historical methodologies of philanthropy in Africa, and suggesting the practice of impactful altruism – such as paying a living wage, building a solidarity economy or choosing regenerative investing – she shares an outline of how those with privilege can play a role in social justice.

Drawing on indigenous knowledge – fables, proverbs and learnings from African academics – We Need More Tables presents a framework of what is required to bring more of our communities to participate at the tables where decisions are made.

Norma Young’s insightful book provides us with realistic and practical ways of moving towards eradicating poverty in South Africa.


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