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,
+27 72 308 8116