I am an African. Born of the South African soil, I am unequivocally, unashamedly, African. I rejoice in this – in a heritage that is rich in the color of Tata Madiba’s beloved “Rainbow Nation.” I am the sum total of the cultures in my country, of the languages I have been exposed to and of the beauty of this land I call home. I have no hankering in my heart to leave or to explore other faraway lands – I am home in the land of my birth and my roots run deep.
We have our challenges – I am not pretending we don’t and I personally believe that all countries and people have their challenges. However, I am of the conviction that South Africans have an indomitable spirit that overcomes despite the odds. I am proud to belong to a nation that sees an opportunity for victory in even the worst situations and I believe that this ability to see the beauty in every storm, is one of the hallmarks that defines us as a country and a people.
As I write this, I am parked at a friend’s dining room table – being what I call an ‘Eskom Squatter’. We have had no electricity at home for the past 18 hours… a neighboring transformer was struck by lightning… so here I am, hogging electricity. This blog post has been a long time coming, and now my friend’s willingness to help me reminded me of this special glue that South Africans share – the glue that says: “We are one. You are not alone and something good can come out of this if we stand together.”
About six weeks ago, a taxi (a mini-bus) burnt out near the gate to our little village. It stood there as a sad monument to a tragedy. No one moved it and it became as normal as the old airplane outside Komatipoort has become over the years. Until someone saw the opportunity for magic in that tragedy. Overnight, the burnt out carcass of the taxi was pimped-out with love and enthusiasm and converted into a celebration of a culture that overcomes – a culture that sees the beauty in the storm. A couple in our community had taken the initiative to give the wrecked bus a face-lift and a new purpose… Aside from turning an eyesore into a beautiful landmark, they also turned it into an opportunity to raise funds for a worthy cause… feeding the two resident Rhinos who were rescued from imminent starvation (see my previous blog post). For a donation of R 500, people could advertise their business on the now beautiful bus – the funds would go towards the Rhino food that the Marloth Wildlife Fund is faithfully buying and serving daily to our beloved “Flippie and Peanut” (and all their hungry buddies:-).
There is a colloquial term: “Proudly South African.” It speaks my heart. I bear no malice or judgment towards people who have for whatever reason left our shores for greener pastures. I’m sure their reasons were justified and I imagine they carry a longing for home in their hearts – because Africa always lives in the hearts of those who have known her intimately. This place of breathtaking beauty and unquenchable courage is home to a spirit of togetherness. The heart-breaking division that is sown by some, is not the voice and heart of the majority. The South Africans I have the privilege of calling brothers and sisters, come from all races, colours, and cultures. Fundamentally we are the same – we share the same heart and we are bound together by that glue I mentioned earlier – the glue of Ubuntu – the knowledge that we share a universal bond.
It is my personal conviction that Ubuntu is at the core of our ability to see the rainbow in the storm as a people and as a nation. I am persuaded this is what will prevail in the face of all our challenges – the reason the rainbow nation will continue to shine. It begins and ends with you and me – it is a condition of our hearts – a choice. What storm do you find yourself in today? As it rages, cling to this knowledge – there is a rainbow in every storm, and sometimes the beauty forged in the storm has a purity and a strength that is incomparable. Ubuntu – we are one – if we are willing.