Microeconomics

A Masseur in South Africa

Text: Linda Tutmann
Photo: Linda Tutmann

Hakim La Rocca shares a two-room flat in Cape Town. He is 42 years old and has been living in South Africa for 12 years. He was born in Nicaragua but grew up in the US and is an American citizen. Last year, he and his wife separated. They have two young daughters. La Rocca trained in health studies at a college in Cape Town, and eight years ago he started working as a self-employed massage therapist. His book on how to massage your partner is due to be published next year.

Income, basic cost, retirement provisions

La Rocca earns between €2,900 and €3,260 a month. Of this, €435 goes on health insurance. He pays €20 tax a month. He does not pay into a pension. The rent for his room in a shared apartment is €360 a month; renting the massage room costs €290 a month. He spends €14.50 on cleaning, €36 on electricity and €4 on massage oil. The fees for the international school that his daughters attend come to €725 a month.

What does your work mean to you?

Massaging is my way of giving something back to society. I don’t donate money and I don’t look after orphans; but with my hands I can relieve people’s pain. Also, my work allows me to live a certain lifestyle. I don’t have to work all day long, but can sometimes take a break and sit in a café.

What is the most important thing in your life?
Contentment. I don't need a car for that, but I need mobility. I am contented if I can travel or end relationships that are not good for me.

What would you most like to change about your life?

I would like to be more relaxed. Sometimes I find it hard to accept other people’s opinions. Also, I dream of starting a vegetable garden. Unfortunately, I only have a small balcony.

What are your biggest problems and how do you deal with them?

My wife and I separated last year. We have two daughters and are in the middle of working out an arrangement for the children. That is not easy.

How do you give yourself a treat?

I go out for a pizza with my children.

What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about earning a living for one year?

I was born in Nicaragua and I lived there until I was six. When the civil war broke out there, my family and I fled to the USA. I would like to get to know the country of my parents.

How do you judge the current political situation in South Africa?

I am worried, because President Jacob Zuma is so corrupt that voters are turning their backs on him. This is not making the situation any more stable. And Zuma’s rival, Julius Malema, the radical leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, is a danger to the country.

South Africa

Population: 54.5 million
Currency: rand (1 euro = 14.8 rand)
GDP per capita: €5,230
Human Development Index: 119th place
(Germany: 4th place out of 188 countries)

Current average costs

1 pizza (restaurant): €7.25
1 litre of milk: €0.95
1 cinema ticket: €4.79
1 kilogram of bananas: €1.16
1 dozen eggs: €1.65
0.33 litres of local beer: €1.57