Archive for Julie, 2012

Stories

I don’t think in statistics. I don’t think in years and numbers and time past. I often can’t recall the dates that things happened, how many people did what and exactly where. I’m never sure of the extent of the problem or how things came to be the way they are. Somehow, my brain has no file for remembering these things.

I do however, think in pictures. I think in memories and stories and the way someone looks when they tell me of their life. This is how I remember things. This is what adds value to how I perceive things.

I’ve recently realised I have so many conflicting stories in my head. People who are technically on different “sides” but with whom I both sympathise.

Recently I watched a show called Kat and the Kings at the Athol Fugard theatre. The theatre is situated in the old district six and the show is about a vocal group during the apartheid era. This show filled my heart with empathy for what happened to so many families and dreams that were lost in the process.

Just before the show my friend told me he watched a TV show on a crime that was committed a few years ago, when two white guys were shot and left naked by the side of the M5, by four coloured men who were high on Tik at that time.

I read newspaper articles of how the ANC is messing things up in different parts of the country. How all the shop owners in Pilgrim’s rest lost the tenders to their shops, which have sustained them for years, and with this, their livelihood, to black empowerment companies with no capital to support their new ventures.

I hear of boere that are shot on their farms. I listen to stories told by family members who live in the Northern Province. I look at the faces of the young men from Heideveld that I am interviewing for my research. I hear how their fathers abused their mothers, how they got involved in gangsterism and left school, of how they are now unable to find a job. Of how all they want is a wife, a house and to be able to support a family.

I hear these stories, I see these faces. I look at Tafelberg and I remember the hills in Mpumalanga. For me, these aren’t conflicting stories. They are part of South Africa. All of them. No one’s story trumps someone else’s. I don’t know who said this but I love this quote. “Be kind to one another, for we are all fighting a difficult battle”.

In South Africa, I believe, we all suffer from a bit of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We have flashbacks of painful pasts and walk around fearful of our futures. We do not know who to trust, where we can go to safely and how to plan for what might happen. We are all in the same boat. Our lives don’t look the same. We are not all fighting the exact same battle. But we all live here together. We all suffer from what happened in the past, and we all need each other now, more than ever. This is how we overcome, this is how we move on. By listening, by acknowledging pain and by stepping up and taking responsibility for change.

At the beginning of the year the Cape Town Carnival was held in Greenpoint. I loved this. I loved it so much. It made me so, incredibly proud to be South African. We are such diverse, strong-minded, dynamic, talented, amazing people. We all have tons of strong qualities that can over shadow our weak ones. I loved standing there, seeing how magical and beautiful we look when we throw this all together. I mean, no other country boasts with 11 official languages, people of all flavor and colour. We are still alive and standing and beautiful and diverse. This is my heart’s wish, that we can all meet each other. That we can all acknowledge each other as human beings and worthy of being here. With that thought, before I become completely sentimental I will leave you.

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