20 days to go!

August 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

20 days to go! And PepStores have just pledged $1000 to the Indiegogo Campaign. This will take us up to $3430! Thank you PEP!

 

IGG 20 Days to go

Dear Corporate South Africa,

Please support ‘the UBUNTU girl’ book through the Indiegogo Campaign . If you are interested in getting your hands on a few copies of the Limited Edition book, please send an email to sonja@theubuntueffect.org with the subject line:  IGG CC

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Alternatively, Please book me as a speaker for your upcoming events
100% of the money from confirmed, paid speaking engagements (booked and paid by 24Aug13) will go into the Indiegogo campaign and you will be mentioned in the book along with the other contributors. These contributions will be transacted through ‘the UBUNTU effect’ non-profit organisation [105-510 NPO]

IGG Speaker Blog

I am increasingly grateful for the support we have received for the Indiegogo campaign. The 32 funders to date encourage me to continually think laterally. And they keep me asking the important questions: How do we make this book possible in a way that involves people from all walks of life? My dream is that one day when the mainstream edition is available on shelves, we can have a domestic worker, a student, a CEO, a granny, a corporate all saying: “Collectively, we made this happen”

Thank you for reading

much UBUNUness,
Sonja Kruse
+27 72 308 8116

http://www.theubuntugirl.co.za

ubuntuabundance@gmail.com
Twitter: @theubuntugirl
LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/sonjakruse
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/theubuntugirl
Skype: skruse2

‘the UBUNTU girl’ BOOK now available through Indiegogo

June 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

We have gone Indegogo!

Do you want to help crowdfund ‘the UBUNTU girl’ book and get your hands on a LIMITED EDITION copy? Click below

‘the UBUNTU girl’ book

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Click here if you would like to know more about the defintion of crowdfunding

Thank you for reading,
Sonja Kruse
+27 72 308 8116

http://www.theubuntugirl.co.za

ubuntuabundance@gmail.com
Twitter: @theubuntugirl
LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/sonjakruse
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/theubuntugirl
Skype: skruse2

We carry each other

January 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

I was walking down the passage when my eyes wondered through a door to the right. There was a black shape moving the orange organza curtain. The little clawing feet drew me closer and into a mesmerized zombie state. I could relate to this little gecko, just hanging in there. Does the rumble of your tummy determine the length of your patience, little chap?

2012 was a long year. Time will tell that it was the same length as the year before and it will be the same length this year. Time won’t tell the actual lengths between one lesson and the next. The clock does not speak the language of space-holding. Times when your dream is in a physical non-state, where nothing moves forward, or even backwards. All you have to do is keep holding the space where you believe that things will happen.

Time will tell us when to eat, but not what. A friend told me the other day that she finds my ability to keep believing, admirable. My determination is not driven by my stomach as much as by my heart. And because my heart beats in an ever expanding UBUNTU heart, it is possible for me to have dips in faith and contemplate getting a 9-5 job, without it amounting to much. Every day’s every experience is shared with so many people

One of these heartbeats belongs to Sunedria Nicholls-Gärtner, aka Su, from the Internationale Filmschule in Cologne. We met in Germany last year at a conference I presented at. It was clear when we met, that Su had always understood interconnectedness. She may not have known the word UBUNTU, but she has lived her live as an extension of all that is around her. We shared stories of our lives and I learn that Su is a Canadian who has lived in Germany for 20 years. As we talked, the fingers on her left hand instinctively fiddle with a charm bracelet on her right arm. She shows me the purple amethyst that has been with her for over 20 years. It is from her country of birth. Her piece of Canada here in Germany She wanted to honour my journey, because she believes that we need to grow into a community economy. Because she believes it, she lives it. And I learn from her heart through osmosis. And so it spirals.

Before we part, Su removed the amethyst from her bracelet and passed it onto me. She wanted me to have something of this meeting and to act as a blessing. I simply did not feel worthy. Su didn’t seem to hear me protesting. I left Germany almost feeling ashamed. Ironically, metaphysically speaking, the Amethyst is believed to guard against guilty and fearful feelings.

It is also a stone worn by Catholic priests as it symbolizes piety, sincerity, humility and spiritual wisdom. Even when the stone is not with me physically, it is imparting its wisdom. The days when doubts are knocking on my door and I ask myself: “What the hell are you doing?” or “You are so arrogant to think that you make a difference” the stone reminds me that I am one pixel of a bigger picture.

2013 will be the year that ‘the UBUNTU girl’ will grow up in ‘the UBUNTU effect’. This stone will be a constant reminder of the faith that we need to invest in one another. There are people from around the world wanting to book hop-on-hop-off seats on our UBUNTU bus. We will be sharing what we know about the human spirit with one another.

The world as I see it, from my geckoed window, is a space where we are in one, ever-expanding heart. We laugh together; we cry together. Madiba’s words come to mind: “To be free is not merely to cast of the chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others

Thank you for reading

Sonja Kruse
+27 72 308 8116

http://www.theubuntugirl.co.za

ubuntuabundance@gmail.com
Twitter: @theubuntugirl
LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/sonjakruse
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/theubuntugirl
Skype: skruse2

The long blessing of Langebaan

December 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

There are moments in life that can best be described as full-circle moments. This is one of them. It feels like I am an outline of a person, like a ginger-bread-man-cookie-cutter (albeit with red hair). And on the inside I am hollow. Filled with air. Completely light. Every part that makes up the whole is aware that it is an extension of absolutely everything else in existence. At this moment, right now, I am aware of what ‘interconnected’ means. I have just addresses about 80 people. That alone is worthy of this lightness. But the circle that is this feeling, has lassoed Maryam Alie. She is the reason for this gratitude. She is one of the original UBUNTU families. And I am here in Langebaan at her ‘Seabreeze Park Sports Project & Neighbourhood Watch’ fundraising event, helping her raise funds for the project that is so close to her heart. I am giving back. It occurs to me that this is a Western way of thinking; of being. More often than not, the way we give back when we receive, is just to spread it out, around, making waves and circles. Not specifically aimed at the person we receive from.

Maryam and her late husband shared a lot of information with me about the Muslim culture and religion. So, tonight I am wearing traditional Muslim outfit, on loan from a friend of Maryams. I look up. People are applauding and I thank (and hug) the programme director and take my seat next to Warren. He brought me to Langebaan from Cape Town at his expense. He wants to help with the work that I do in ways that he can. Not that we agree on much. Or anything, actually! But I guess, once we follow our dreams, we find support from people we might never have expected it from before. He is teaching me so much about opening my heart and mind more

As far as accommodation is concerned, this message arrived on my phone yesterday:
“Hi Sonja, believe you are looking for accommodation in Langebaan, I am able to assist as I have a cottage. If possible, it has a pay as you go electricity box, probably cost you under R30 and if your budget can stretch, R40 to clean and do Linen. Otherwise no other costs, Let me know, Colette”

I had no idea who she is, but knew that Antoinette had asked around. Antoinette is one of the five UBUNTU families to touch base with this weekend. Warren and I have already partied it up last night, with drinks on ‘The Deck’ with some of my extended families and Warren dropped me off this morning to have ‘koek en tee’ with Tannie Bettie and Ella (Oh, and Phillo, the parrot).

I am at the table. My appetite is gone. A lot of emotions surface during these presentations. Not just from being the catalyst for the story, but the stories that surround the people in the audience. What goes on in people’s heads and hearts, suddenly bared. There are gaping-wound people. There are people who look like they’ve swallowed the sun. All that they are and that they believe, form part of the story that is in the room. It is in the air, inside and outside of me

The dance floor is officially opened. Perhaps I’ll go and ‘gooi’ some moves!

A man approaches. His name is Moses. We met this morning at an event held as part of the holiday programme for the kids. He is from Zimbabwe. He is involved with this project because he wants to help give the kids in Langebaan the best opportunities. “Children just want love. Sometimes when they do not feel it, they look around and think that they find it when they see other youngsters doing drugs. Passing ‘the love’ around”. This summer will be filled with various sporting activities for the children and the parents will be encouraged to join in.

Next I meet a young woman . Vicky. She says that she can totally relate to the spirit of UBUNTU and hospitality that I received, because her and her partner drove their Landrover all the way from the UK to South Africa along West Africa. She tells the story of a young girl who took one of their containers and filled it with peanuts. Not sure how to respond, Vicky gave her some money. The little girl took the money but was gesturing and talking animatedly. She was becoming frustrated because she could not get her point across. She disappeared only to return later with a little handmade brush that the travellers could use to keep the inside of their vehicle clean. Vicky and I agree that for a lot of African cultures, receiving a guest is receiving a blessing.

Maryam is calling me. It is time to have our photos taken. In one of the poses I stand next to a man, Andre. Sjoe, the stories around him are bursting at the seams! Photoshoot over, Andre tells me that of the stories I shared tonight, the one that stood out for him was the one about how both the Pedi guy, Solly and the Afrikaans farmers had the same questions about each other’s cultures: What kind of food do they eat? What kind of houses do they keep? Andre is an ex-military man who was recruited to be a major role player in the integration of the various military wings (there were something like 11!) during the birth of the new South Africa. He tells me how they started off quite formally, with interviews, with people taking minutes and notes, recording the process. That was until a black man looked around the room and saw that he was surrounded by white faces. He asked whether they did not think that this was a bit intimidating. After that they changed tack and went from base to base in a less formal, more get-to-know each other kind of way first. Stories are powerful.

Then the hip-hop performers, tonight’s (very entertaining) entertainers come over to meet me. Their dream is to continue to perform their music, which is aimed at educating the youth about HIV. They want to make a film about how this message is being received. Their energy is intoxicating.

Even so, it has been a long day. I don’t want to be like a diva (wanting ONLY blue smarties…) BUT, Warren, please bring the car around. I am tired! Maryam, thank you! Yes Yes Yes. It’s a pleasure. No, don’t worry about petrol money.Yes, we can give those tannies a lift home. I’ll be back in Langebaan soon. Yes, I love you too. It was full circle, hey? Oh, and Maryam, thank you for the work that you are doing in your community. This is what gives me the strength to keep on doing what I am doing. Yes, this is what Ubuntu is

Thank you for reading,

Sonja Kruse
+27 72 308 8116

http://www.theubuntugirl.co.za

ubuntuabundance@gmail.com
Twitter: @theubuntugirl
LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/sonjakruse
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/theubuntugirl
Skype: skruse2

We have moved

October 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

Thank you for your support these past 3 years.

We have moved to a new a new home

http://theubuntugirl.wordpress.com

Sonja Kruse

Blinded

October 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

This past month I‘ve come face to face with my ugly side. It has been about finding the cracks.
“There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in” ~ Leonard Cohen. So, do I write this story that has reached boiling point inside of me? Or do I play Spider Solitaire until it passes?

12 October 2012
It is going to be a gentle day: A walk to town from Woodstock, with some people appreciation along the way. Woodstock is one of those places that just lets it all hang out. The window dressing tells you exactly what you’ll find in store, not what you wish to find there.

The wind is calling it quits for now and the sun hits my big-rimmed summer hat with delight. I am happy to be out; other people are happy to be out and we’re smiling about this together.

As I near Greenmarket Square in town, I stop to listen to my favourite musician. His voice is not the best. What he lacks in vocal strength, he makes more than up for in his strength of character and his faith in God. When I hear and see him, I am reminded of just how petty I can be. His Xhosa song teases the space between us, filing my lungs with his joy.

I am always mesmerised by his self-taught style. The guitar is held in front of him, with the strings facing him, as he strums away. He is blind

When the song stops, I approach him. I’ve been really broke lately. Today I have money. Today I will buy a CD. His name is Goodman. Lunga Goodman Mono. His first question, hardly surprising, is: “What is your name?” I answer with a simple “Sonja”
“Do you have a friend?” “Yes” I say thinking his question odd
“What is the name of your friend?” “Carrie”
“Is that a name?” He laughs and I say: “Yes!”
“It is not a difficult name”. I agree

We chat some more. I wonder if he has a friend that helps him to his usual spot. He enquires about where I am from. He loves the idea of Kwa Zulu Natal. He asks if it takes long to get there. He would like to go by train, perhaps. No, I don’t know what time the trains leave. And I don’t tell him that I have walked there before. I say that I have a R100. He doesn’t have change. “How do you know that I am giving you a R100?” For all he knows I may as well give him R10. He does not understand the question. Trust.  By this stage I am kneeling next to him. He is beautiful. We are conversing in a broken kind of way. But, understanding is overrated. Sometimes, awe is all we need. He says that he likes the name: THANDEKA. This is my new name.

I can’t believe I never spoke with him before. I usually fold a note neatly and put it in his tin; so that he does not have to hear me. He can just carry on singing. I walk away with the music in my hand; the music in me.

“Please come back 4 December. I will have a new CD. In English”

My heart and mind is still in his song, when I am approached by a beggar. I am a little annoyed at being pulled back into another reality paradigm so quickly. I put my hands up and simply shake my head in a no. She follows me. She is persistant. “Please, I have not eaten today” I know how that feels.  I feel helpless. I can’t help everybody.  How will this help her tomorrow?  Her voice gnaws at my stomach. Her hunger should be my hunger. Frustration! All of a sudden, in a flash, I feel an ancient anger rise up in me. I turn to this lady. I take the CD and show her the picture of Goodman. I’m not sure what my voice conveys: “I just bought this from a blind man. Do you see him? Yes, you see him? A long pause from us both. “You see him, because you can see”

The language of her body, moves slightly away from me. I turn facing her full-on: “This man is doing something for himself. He is making a business for himself. You are young. You are beautiful. Is there something that you can do?” And now we make eye-contact for the first time. She is also angry. “Yes, I do things” Powerless. Deflated. We just look at one another. I know that I don’t want to know what she has to do to survive. I walk away. I’m shaking. I’m angry to my core: With her; with me; with society; with poverty; with desperation! And I think that my sunhat and pure white shirt feels so out of place.

Trying to compose myself, I make my way to go and see Leila. She is everybody’s favourite Bo-Kaap Car Guard! I get there only to find that she has reverted to living back on the street with her son again. And he has been doing so well at school lately – with the help from a local business owner who assists with his homework. That angry feeling is only covered with a thin layer of veneer. We talk about the council and her ‘pampiere’ [papers] for an RDP home. “How can I help you, Leila” She sounds so wise when she says: “You do. You always visit me. You are my angel. We must keep putting one foot in front of the other. We will get better”

I must eat something because my appetite has been packing up and threatening to move out . How can I eat when there are so many hungry people? Food turns sour. I arrive at the queue in the Eastern Food Bazaar at the same time as a group of people. I offer that they can go first. “Are you sure?” Smiling, I say: “Yes. I am not in a hurry” I see from their access tags that they work for SARS. South African Revenue Services. My stomach twists. Perhaps I’ll go home and play Spider Solitaire…

Thank you for reading,

Sonja Kruse
+27 72 308 8116

www.theubuntugirl.co.za

ubuntuabundance@gmail.com
Twitter: @theubuntugirl
LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/sonjakruse
Facebook: www.facebook.com/theubuntugirl
Skype: skruse2

Ubuntu Universo

October 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

May 2011
“Hi Sonja
My name is Tina. I’m Italian and I had the incredible fortune to live 3 wonderful years in your country. As soon as I moved there I felt home and my special dream is to come back and make South Africa my home.
Because I had to be back in Italy, but I wanted desperately share my passion for the spirit of South Africa, the Ubuntu philosophy, I decided to open a show room called Ubuntu Project where South African art and craft are promoted. I love to bring every season new creations and new ideas from SA and each of them has a story to tell. What I’m doing since the beginning is also to organize events where I host a new artist, a new story, a new project from South Africa.
When I read your story I was incredibly fascinated and immediately I had this image in my eyes of you sitting in my shop and telling your story to an interested audience.
I decided to write you because I can see from your spirit that you may be a woman that will accept a new challenge: I will love to show to Italian people that the spirit of UBUNTU is real and we should learn from it.
I can offer you accommodation for free. If you want more information about my shop, please have a look on Facebook: my name is Tina Cimmino and the page of the shop is Ubuntu Project where South Africa meets Italy”

And if that was not compelling enough, we bumped into one another, by chance at Bryanston Organic Market when Tina was in South Africa for a visit a year later. Tina’s dream of the UBUNTU girl talking about UBUNTU in the UBUNTU Project Store, became my dream. So when IFS ~ (Internationale Film Schule) in Cologne invited and sponsored me to present UBUNTU stories in Germany in Sept 2012, I added Italy on the agenda.

Sept 2012
I was waiting outside the train station in Ferrara for Tina to pick me up. I knew which car was hers before I could make out her face. Words to describe how I knew this, escapes me. We embraced one another in a reunion hug.

Tina whisked me off to meet her family and have lunch with friends. Enzo, Tina’s husband and I almost immediately fell into an easy banter of teasing, under which I sensed his love for South Africa. Their eldest daughter, Marguerite was actually in South Africa for a visit, due to arrive back in a couple of days. They were all, not so secretly, envious of her. It was difficult to believe that their youngest, Chiara, was only 12 years old. There is a streak of maturity blended in with youthful stubbornness and rare beauty. She is here to leave a mark.

Tina also introduced me to Giuliana and Massimo. Two of the gentlest, most amused-with-life people. Giuliana is ageless, wisdom seeping from her. She is as soft as the figs we picked together and as firm as the ground we walked barefoot on. Their farmhouse on the outskirts of Ferrara, tucked into another era. We sat under the Italian sun on, what seemed to be a magic carpet, dancing above their lawn. I could speak no Italian and Giuliana could speak no English. We had the most fruitful and enlightening conversations that way. Chiara translated for us, though the essence of what the stories carried with them did not need it. It was such a safe space for sharing. We laughed and we cried. We spoke of lost ancient knowledge and gained perspective.

Giuliana started the ‘Save the Words Campaign’. Her aim is to save the meaning of words, the philosophy behind them, the magic inside them. There are words that have been hijacked by certain people, for their own personal gain. Words like LOVE. I agreed with Giuliana.

“Yes, the word Ubuntu is being abused by politicians and marketers in South Africa. Are there words here in Italy that you think has also lost its meaning this way?”

She nodded and her one-word answer made me unbearably sad:
“Democracy”

Giuliana had a gift for me. A scarf. It had all the colours one could imagine and colours one couldn’t. One colour bled into another, without as much as a seem or a hassle. Contrasting colours; complimentary colours all came together in this textured wrap around.

“This is for you, because it embraces everything. It has the blue of the sky and the colours of the earth. It has everything in between. This is an UBUNTU scarf”

We shared the stage later that week, in the UBUNTU Project Store because Giuliana declared that Ubuntu will be the first word that she wanted to save in her campaign! Before that happened, however, I had to experience a little bit of Italy first. I was spoilt by Tina and her family as they gave up their living room to a massive king size blow up mattress…and me! I also had full use of the collection of family bicycles and was hugely grateful that Ferrara is flat, flat, flat. I even went on a 55km cycle excursion, admiring the Italian countryside and cycle routes. I ate Mozzarella, fresh out of bag; ate Gelato EVERY DAY; ate pizzas; drank wine; learnt to order Café Macchiato (translated, means an espresso ‘stained’ by milk); was scowled at: vi! vi! by some of the elderly cyclists, who were obviously too busy, (doing what???) to diddle daddle behind some woman with a funny looking hat – I yelled straight back: “Tourist! Tourist!” Oh, and Marguerita came home! Now I was truly a part of the family. I became known as the ‘Other One’

The night of the presentation, Chiara was more nervous than I was. We decided to put together a little play. We practiced for about two days. It was only a 2 minute introduction of what it was like to be the Ubuntu Girl. A knock knock scenario. The daunting thing for us both was that Chiara was going to speak in Zulu and I was going to speak Italian! (with crib notes for me!) It had the desired effect, because we had the audience in the palms of our hands. They were ready for the more serious stuff that followed. Giuliana explained her Save the Words Campaign. I was in total awe of this woman and hanging on each Italian word.

This was the first time that I had a translator. Tina was amazing. We fell into a rhythm and understood when the pauses were necessary. It was great to experience the audience responses in two waves, two languages. With every presentation there is a point at which a third presence enters the room. It can be best explained as an amalgamation of the story, the teller and the audience. The story is the maestro and we lean in, lean out to allow for its flow. It’s a song that sings from one heart to the next. WOW, we did not expect such a positive response! We had the most phenomenally open heart conversations afterwards. A woman came up to me and said that she did something similar in Europe! She wanted to know whether language was a barrier for me. The answer was there between us, unspoken. We just looked at one another and smiled.

Ciao! Tina and I cried as I climbed onto the bus. There was a gentle breeze that playfully snaked my Ubuntu scarf around me one more time. Yes, it was hard to leave. It would have been harder not to come.

Thank you for reading,

Sonja Kruse
+27 72 308 8116

www.theubuntugirl.co.za

ubuntuabundance@gmail.com
Twitter: @theubuntugirl
LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/sonjakruse
Facebook: www.facebook.com/theubuntugirl
Skype: skruse2

Food for thought

August 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


The red car slows down. In the thick thick sand, it swerves a little as it slows. Until it comes to a halt next to me. There is a woman with a young girl on her lap in the back seat. The passenger window is open and so I go on my haunches and greet them. The man asks me where I am going and I say nowhere in particular, but will be happy to go with them as far as they go. He chats with the woman in the back seat and leans over to open the passenger door from the inside. This is how I meet Solly and his wife, Jacqueline Matlou. The little one is 2 years old. Moloko. She eyes me suspiciously. Solly asks my business. I tell him the UBUNTU story. It has been 8 months on the road, so I am quite well-oiled in my explanation. He speaks with his wife in Pedi and say that I am welcome to stay with them. This surprises me, as he looks quite strict and in real words, well, unfriendly. That whole pre-conceived business again, Sonja! Well, I say it will be an honour, because I have not stayed with a Pedi family yet. Plus this is Pedi Trustland. Solly works at the mine and Jacqueline is a teacher.


As we drive, I sense that there is something heavy weighing inside him, since our meeting. I sit there, matching his silence, watching the mountain. Becoming as light as the breeze that teases the bushes on the giant looming ahead. When Solly asks the question that is obviously been forming over a much longer period that our short acquaintance, I will answer it as honestly and openly as I can. The  sand becomes thicker and the vehicle slows as there is less traction. I feel the resistance.

 

He turns to me and I see sadness, anger and frustration there. “Why is it that you, as a white woman, can come here, into this area, into our area, and you know that you can go knocking on any door, with the assurance that somebody will take you into their home? Yet, if any person from here will go knocking on one of your homes, in your area, what will happen? You know that no-one will take me in. Why is that?”

 

“I do not have the answer” I say. What do I honestly think? I look at him. “But I have a few maybes for you” One of the things that I immediately think of when he asks this question is a statement by an old Madala in a North-West township: ‘Crime is fostering artificial hatred amongst people’. In fact, his opinions go further than that. He says that government is feeding off this artificial hatred

 

So, I say to Solly: “Maybe, we still have to undo a lot of brainwashing that happened in this country. Like ‘Die Swart Gevaar’. Like ‘Kill the Farmer, Kill the Boer’. Maybe, like a Madala I met on this journey said: ‘Crime is fostering artificial hatred amongst our people’. Maybe it is white guilt. Maybe we don’t expect black people to have forgiven us for Apartheid. Maybe this. Maybe that.” I have to learn that it’s ok to not have the answers


  

We get to t heir home.  A beautiful home. In the even smaller village of Berggerecht. I am taken to a room. I think that it is a spare room, but Solly and his wife decide to give up their room for me to use. Jacqueline asks if I have eaten today. Yes thank you. Solly is working night shift, so he is going to have a meal now. He will braai some Impala meat. He bought some to make Biltong. Whilst his wife is cooking pap, I watch him prepare the meat for making Biltong. We have the pap and the braaied Impala meat with Marogo for a late lunch. Whilst we eat, I am humbled when Solly asks me: “What do white people cook in their homes? What kind of food do you guys like?” How little we know of one another. And we sit and exchange a little bit of our cultures around the dining table. Afterwards, we go outside and Solly shows me his food store. He has pumpkin, watermelon and maize in there. We crack open a watermelon on the floor of the stoep. It is hot here in the Limpopo Province, even for June.

 

   

 

 

 

Jacqueline  fe t ches some binoculars and we look at the mountain. She says that it is called Blouberg. She loves watching it change shape and colour with the sun. Solly goes off to work. Not long after he leaves, Solly’s neighbour, and also his uncle, comes over. As one of the elders of the village he feels that it is his duty to welcome me to their village, as is the custom. He thanks me for coming. He assures me that my safety in the village is guaranteed. Also that I am in a good home, where all my needs will be taken care of. If, however, there is something that I need, I am free to come and knock on his door

 


Moloko has not warmed to me, so I decide to leave in the morning. The intention is never to upset anyone. Jacqeline walks me to the road. She is surprised that I want to walk. Walking is my meditation, and often, my sanity. Solly’s question about why it is ok for me to do this, but that it wouldn’t be ok for him, rattles me. I want some clarity. I walk a while into the day


 


The w hite bakkie slo ws down. In the thick thick sand, it swerves a little as it slows. Until it comes to a halt next to me. Farmers from Loius Trichardt (Makhado). I tell them that I have just spent a night in the Pedi Trustland. They look at one another. I see my bemused face looking back at me in the rear view mirror, when they ask me: “What kind of houses do they have? Is it made of bricks? What did they feed you? What kind of food do they like?”

Thank you for reading

much UBUNTUness

Sonja Kruse

+27 72 308 8116      

ubuntuabundance@gmail.com

Twitter: @theubuntugirl

www.theubuntugirl.co.za

LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/sonjakruse

Facebook: www.facebook.com/theubuntugirl

Skype: skruse2

Bring in the light

July 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Ubuntu Greetings,

This artcle was published in the following publication

Ubuntu Magazine

June 2012 Issue 15

Youth Edition

Cruising with Kruse

?

It is the kind of heat that can cause one to hallucinate. Either that or I am really standing in front of a giant hand with a thumb’s up. I am in Galeshewe Township in Kimberley, Northern Cape and learning to find shad. I circle the hand and notice how it changes mood, depending on how the light reflects off it. The one minute it looks like it is punching the air defiantly, Umkhonto Isizwe style and the next it seems so vulnerable, as I glimpse beyond the brave façade and read the insecurities there.

I am about to take a few shots, camera at the ready, when I notice three youth sitting on a bench, watching me, watching the hand. There is something in their countenance that makes me forget about the presence of the hand and as if by magnetic force, one foot places itself in front of the other until I find myself standing next to them. The bench seems slouched under the weight of the young men, slight of build as they are. Though they are joking and smiling, their bodies seem burdened, tired and dare I say, defeated.

“Are you guys from here?” They exchange looks. “Yes” I notice that they all have papers in hands. Perhaps they are studying or have just written exams. I point to the empty spot on the corner and raise my eyebrow. Their nods say it’s ok for me to sit on the already tired bench. We chat and through lively, laugh filled conversation about the hand and the tourists that come from all over, it becomes clear that they share a strong bond.  I notice a bold heading on one of the sheets of paper. CV. Curriculum Vitae.

“How is the job hunting going” They shrug, the air fills with sighs and the bench seems to sink deeper into the ground. “Sometimes you hand your CV in and wait for a response, only to hear that the job went to the cousin of the person that posted the position” says Ismail, who sits next to me. “After a few months of not even having an interview, I am wondering; why did I bother to get a Matric” says the quieter one on the end. What they tell me fills me with sadness and a sense of powerlessness. Ismail can see me downward-spiralling and tries to cheer us up. “Don’t worry. We are in the darkroom of the soul. Right now we can not see the image. But the details will come as we develop”

“Ismail, that is beautiful! Are you a writer?” He writes as often as he can. I ask him to never stop because he has a gift with words. “You are a wordsmith” It is time for them to go. We greet and I offer them a traditional Zulu handshake: My left hand cups my right elbow, my body is slightly bent and I am making no eye contact. Then I offer a conventional shake, followed by clasping thumbs around thumbs and finally another conventional handshake.

As I walk back towards the hand, my mind is in the darkroom of Ismail’s soul. Curriculum Vitae is Latin and means: ‘The course of my life’. Where will Ismail and his friends’ lives course if it is this challenging for them to find work? If one wants to make a contribution to society, yet there are mile upon miles of barriers to entry, how does one keep oneself motivated?

According to the South Africa Survey published by the South African Institute of Race Relations, 51 percent of all 15- to 24-year-olds are unemployed and the longer young people are unemployed, the more unemployable they become

These thoughts are milling through my mind as I half-heartedly place the camera between myself and the memorial. I look at this giant hand through my viewfinder and press the shutter. I get the distinct feeling that the hand is trying to tell me something. I have not even bothered to find out what it is all about. There is a plaque and I bend down to read it. “The Mayibuye Uprising”. In 1952 the young people of Galeshewe rose against the apartheid system. The police opened fire on the crowd, killing 13 people and injuring many more. There is also a Casualty List – Thirteen names. These names are some of the earlier blood sacrifices by our youth in their stance against injustice.

The hand has me in its youthful grip. It is indeed brave, punching the air defiantly saying: We are here to stay. At the same time it is a big vulnerable question mark, asking for guidance from our leaders. Are we failing to recognise that we are not giving our youth the hand up that they need? We are not talking about hand outs, but rather the lifting of the very individuals that we expect to be the baton carriers of our future. Are we helping Ismail and his friends in to develop in their darkrooms?

Thank you for reading the unedited blog stories
*my story is your story is our story*

Sonja Kruse

+27 72 308 8116      

ubuntuabundance@gmail.com

Twitter: @theubuntugirl

www.theubuntugirl.co.za

LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/sonjakruse

Facebook: www.facebook.com/theubuntugirl

Skype: skruse2

Ubuntu Garden

June 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

There are so many people to still write about. The wheelbarrow man is one of them. We met during the first week of the UBUNTU journey and I had not yet learnt how to take notes correctly and he so captivated me that I forgot to write down his name:

Notebook:

It is early, the house is quiet and I find my way outside for some solitude. In this moment I am alone for long enough to try and absorb the experience of my first stay in a township. Everything is unfamiliar yet the sounds of people and livestock rising to meet the day feel like a homecoming.

We meet on the stoep. The man is heading inside for water. He rents an outside room on the property and shares it with his wife and their 1-year old toddler. She is with him and her baby talk is added to the morning air. It is a Sunday and her mom is at work. After the usual polite enquiries, we start talking about the meaning of Ubuntu and he questions whether it is still alive in our society today. “The problem with us South Africans is that we are lazy. Foreigners are taking our jobs because they are prepared to work hard for little money. Whilst we want hand outs” It is such a powerful statement and I simply nod my head. My silence hangs between us as I stretch my ability to really listen to this man. He is speaking with an urgency to be understood.

“It’s like this” he is leaning into the conversation. “It is like we are sitting in a wheelbarrow. Whilst we are sitting, we are expecting the government to push us. But what we don’t understand is that we have to get out of the wheelbarrow. We have to push for ourselves!”

His eyes follow the toddler as she moves around the garden. I see the fierce protectiveness there as his body relaxes; his voice has been heard

The image of the wheelbarrow stays with me and has become a powerful vehicle in my Ubuntu garden. This simple story reminds me that sometimes we get so caught up in protecting our little vegetable patch that we fail to notice that exact same sense of protectiveness in others for their own turf.

Every day I meet people who are getting out and pushing


Thank you for reading the unedited blog stories
*my story is your story is our story*

Sonja Kruse

+27 72 308 8116      

ubuntuabundance@gmail.com

Twitter: @theubuntugirl

www.theubuntugirl.co.za

LinkedIn: http://za.linkedin.com/in/sonjakruse

Facebook: www.facebook.com/theubuntugirl

Skype: skruse2