The Sharnbrook team from the UK was able to be a part of Mandela Day (Madiba’s birthday and a day of community service here).They partnered with a local school in Sweetwaters, and together with the gogos (grandmothers) and mamas of the children in the school, we repainted almost the entire school. In the media in SA and the US right now it seems everyone is cynical about race relations. Current events have shown both of our countries have a long way to go in terms of really reconciling, listening, learning and altering unjust systems. But I also think that because these problems are so huge and overwhelming, that doesn’t give us a right to sit around being cynical and assume it’s someone else’s job (like the government) to fix things. In little ways we each need to take responsibility and do something towards listening, reconciling and working for justice every day. Here is a poem I wrote about it (warning: it contains a word that some cultures find offensive). I have linked in articles on the current events mentioned within the poem. I’m not much of a poet, but maybe you’ll like it. 🙂
so they say there’s yelling about some kid named Trayvon
that the system beat up on
in the US of A
so they say there’s people throwing crap on
the airport in Cape Town
because of the DA
so they say the family can’t agree on
the land he should be buried on
in the R of SA
and all the blacks will just kill the whites anyway.
Mandela’s just a face on paper money,
we can use to buy bread, cigarettes and votes with
and the rainbow nation is just good political rhetoric.
So they say.
But we were there
there with all those mamas and gogos
getting our brown and cream hands sticky
with brown and cream paint
and making the chipped, cracked school walls new again.
I was there in my paint-splattered work jeans
they were there in their rainbow colored aprons
and we were there with paint freckling our faces.
And when you can sing Nkosisikeleli with someone
whose voice drowns out your own
and you both want God to bless Africa
and they can laugh at the way you dance
but you can dance together anyway
and then sit because all the laughing muscles inside are tired
and you can share food
and wash dishes
and scrub floors
then I say
maybe it doesn’t matter what they say.
Because we did have a great party that birthday.