The price of Freedom

I came across this image a little while ago while searching images for “Church Square”. This image of the well-known Church Square in Pretoria (the capital of South Africa) popped up. I found myself staring at it for much longer than I had hoped to. I began to feel sad.

I remembered some stories that my dad had told me on my recent trip home to Ga-Rankuwa.

Church Square

He told me of how beautiful Pretoria was when he first arrived there, he spoke of the Jacaranda trees that brought on a burst of purple streets accompanied by fresh fragrances which now remind me of home, he spoke of the trams that ran through the city centre, he stopped a second and mentioned that he never ever enjoyed a ride on one, I absent-mindedly asked “Why?”, and he turned to me and said “I wasn’t allowed to”, it dawned on me, black people were not allowed to. Instantly that sentence transported me to a time that I have never known, a time when my parents’ movement was restricted simply because they were “non-white”. This conversation with my dad weighed very heavily on my heart.

Apart from the sadness that surfaces every now and then when I look back on this conversation and the life my dad was forced to live I learnt a few things:

– Beauty belongs to us (nobody can take that from you). My dad still saw the beauty of Pretoria despite the terrible reality he and others faced.

– We are incredibly fortunate to be living in a time when I (a dark-skinned female) can sit at a computer, sharing this with you, in the centre of Cape Town, before catching a bus to my home on Kloof Street. I need to remember to enjoy these things I take so for granted.

– What is our offering for coming generations? People died for the life we now enjoy. We walked into a life previously dreamt and fought for. What kind of future do you dream of? What are you doing to contribute towards that?

– Speak to your parents (and other elders): It is such a deep wealth to have the opportunity to live through them. Live through a time you have never and will never experience. This also is a free wisdom exchange. Make the time, find the space and drink their wisdom.


Visible scars help the invisible ones – a walk through Berlin

I am in Berlin. Perhaps you may have noticed due to this post of my Hitch-hiking adventure to reach this place.

There are many things I love about this place and I have some postards to re-iterate what I see as the countless reasons for loving this place. There is a huge part of me that actually wants to move here. To live here. I want this to be my home.

Today we all gathered from many parts of Europe and different learning institutions to meet at Brandenburgertor to begin this AMAZING program. More like a mission. It’s called Mission-U (very aptly named) I will write more about this as the week progresses, all I want to share for now is that it is off to a fantastic start.

[Source of Image]

Our first “mission” was to walk from Brandenburgertor to our home and hub which is in the very very centre of Berlin and to look at the city whilst we do it. We were also challenged to look at the fascades of the buildings and what lies behind the fascades and also look behind the fascades of the people we meet on the streets, whilst meeting someone new from our over 100 group of participants. It was great.

The person I was speaking to gave me a brief and interesting history and explanation of why the buidlings look the way that they do. He explained and showed me the parts of the buildings that were damaged by bullet holes. He described them as the scars of the city.

I found this fascinating, I couldn’t help but relate our conversation and the comaprison of the city and it’s buildings to the situation in South Africa. That perhaps our scars are not visible and so therefore it is difficult to be careful with them – all of them. Those belonging to the Afrikaner people as well as the people who were oppressed during Apartheid.

Later I thought, “Ah, maybe our “scars” are the statues, monuments, buildings and street names that celebrate and commemorate the leaders or figures from the past who drove and stood for and supported the system of Apartheid”. I immediately found discomfort dancing in my stomach.

That’s a problem, when the scars of a city or country are represented by people, or monuments, buildings, statues and streetnames celebrating those people. That is a problem.

Because, we then struggle to move past the person and the group of people and what they stand for outside of what these physical structures represent or evoke within us.

This is a problem because perhaps these things I have named are not the scars of the city.

It is a problem when we don’t have those visible scars to keep up with what we are feeling within. It’s hard when a city does not easily depict the hurt of a place, especially such a heavy hurt.

It is not simply the act of “closing” the subject and moving on. Because it takes time and a very caring and careful process in order to close anything. I mean, think about how hard it is sometimes to just walk away from a conversation where you and the person you are conversing with are simply not reaching agreement.  How hard is that? To walk away from the conversation and just “close it”. It is hard.

This topic is an open and continous and long one. These thoughts I share as I go along.

Does South Africa have visible scars in the city? I mean physical structures? If not, what is best, seeing the scars or not seeing the scars? I’m overwhelmed by my heading back to South Africa, I suppose it is obvious and this is a therapeutic process for me. A needed process.

Let’s see how the rest of my visit to berlin will be like. Let’s see how my feelings become as I approach my arrival back to South Africa.

Thank you for listening.

“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting the great battle”

The title is a quote by Philo of Alexandria or Plato depending on your source. It is one of my favourite quotes and I try my best to meet people with this in mind. To try to remember it and to attempt to listen to their presence knowing that they do have a story and a cross to carry.

One of my best friends wrote me an email as a response to this post I wrote about inheritance. The inheritance I spoke to was not of the material kind, it is more of the intangible kind. Read it and see if you can relate.

I asked if I could post her thoughts as a post of it’s own because it touched me deeply and it was a string of precious truth. I think it’s valubable to share it. Here are her thoughts.

“…the real reason for my email is just to share my thoughts with you after I read your blog about inheritance.
I was overjoyed when I knew that I’ve found a person I could open my heart to about my own feelings.

I too feel like I’ve inherited something. Guilt, that I dont want or need in my life. It is not mine,
but now I am bearing the cross. I am angry, so angry that because of the mere lack of pigment in my skin
I take on that guilt. Maybe I’m angry at myself for allowing it in, maybe I’m angry at others for making me
feel that way.

In my class of 45 sutdents, I am the only white person. I dont feel any different to my fellow students.
I get on the 3rd class carriage of the train and ride with them to wherever I go, because thats what I would have
done anyway if I was alone. But somehow they see me differently. They think I get treated better by the college<
they think I have perks. And that hurts. They think I do well in my test because of what I look like. They think I have
it easy. When topics discussed in class visit the past, i feel horrible. And guilty, and ashamed. But I also feel alone.

I see amazing relationships between people which just restores my faith in humanity.
I want to drive to the middle of the desert, stop along the side of an abandoned road,
take the cross of my shoulders, and leave it there. I want to watch it disappear into dust in the rearview mirror.

I guess all I wanted to say to you is, i know how you feel. We carry heavy things because we are thinkers
and because we have open hearts and we care. Thats a good thing. ANd that makes the load a little lighter.

I love you my dear friend Didi…”

What are your thoughts on inheritance? I think in South Africa it is a deep question which opens raw wounds. It’s not a subject that we as a nation are really ready to face (with all its pain and truth) and therefore allow ourselves the forgiveness and right to move on. I wish us the bravery to go to that uncomfortable place and work with it. Feel it and then come up for air and move forward in a new way.

It’s delicate.

(Source of image)

What have you inherited?

The last couple of weeks and days have felt like I have been a circus performer, juggling all kinds of tasks and thoughts, while performing multiple tricks in the kitchen including illusions (part realities depending on your perspective) of abundance.

So writing has been on my mind but not quite coming out in the form which I would like it to. But here I am finally; letting the words occupying my mind free.

About 2 weeks ago we had the pleasure of having Charles Eisenstein as a contributor. He was and is phenomenal (In case you have not read or heard about his work yet, look here). During his week I took the opportunity to be really honest with my community about something that has been weighing heavily on my shoulders, head and heart. It is a heaviness that follows me everywhere I go and is constantly there, it just sleeps sometimes, but it is always there.

What is this weight I speak of? Well, I have a lot of ANGER. An anger about the pain I carry, anger about inequality, anger about race relations, anger about South Africa and the situation my generation and I have inherited.

This anger does not always feel like mine, to be really honest, it feels like something built into my DNA, engraved into my bones. Something I have no choice about carrying and dealing with. Something which has been passed down to me due to the fact that it was unresolved in years before my arrival on this earth. I can’t quite put my finger on it. But I feel it so strongly sometimes, that it feels like the gall bladder in my body has burst and the bile is contaminating my internal structure, poisining my every cell, my every organ and affecting my thought patterns and actions. I hate it. I feel so bitter. Unbearable. Unloveable. Unable to love.

Coming to YIP has been a challenge in allowing this anger to be, in a constructive way. A way that can bring enlightenment and awareness instead of darkness. I still feel like I need to consciously reign it in – not always in the healithiest ways. Clearly, a long journey lies ahead of me in working with this heavy sandbag. Sometimes I feel ready and up for it and other times I fear going there because it is so exhausting.

I do want to work with this anger. I want to explore it, examine it closely and understand it. It is here to bring some sort of truth to me and others. It in necessary. Although that is hard to swallow.

There is a part of me that feels that this anger (more specifically about racial inequality in South Africa), wants to give birth to something beautiful, something transformational, it wants to be the mother to something easier to pass on to those that come after me to continue working with. A lesser anger perhaps, a more pleasant truth. I’m not yet sure what it is exactly and how I will bring it into being. It will come, I know it will and it will be beautiful and it will buid and not destroy. on second thoughts it may destroy, it may destroy in order to allow a new foundation and a new reality to come about.

This makes me think about what legacy we leave behind…

What habits, actions, words are you releasing into the world today that are going to affect those that follow you on this earth? Long after you have gone, turned to dust, what precious treasure or ugly truth will you leave behind for someone else to walk on this earth with, engraved into their bones, sprouting from their DNA, being carried on their shoulders?

What have you inherited due to those that came before you? I mean physically (offcourse) but also emotionally and mentally – even spiritually, those intangible yet very real aspects? What are you walking around with that does not feel like yours, that which now belongs to you but feels inherited?

(Source of image)