“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
“How was your holiday in SA?” I asked, excited to hear how much our friend had enjoyed his visit to my homeland in December.
“South Africa is really in a bit of a mess,” he replied. Note, that in British English, a ‘bit of a mess’ is basically a large scale disaster.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Nothing works. The Eskom situation is depressing. Most people I spoke to just want to get out of there.”
He seemed to be satisfied that he’d given me the final word.
This is a real conversation I had in January 2020 with a British friend who’s married to an ex-pat South African.
Sadly it’s not an isolated conversation.
I get it. I’m not burying my head in the sand.
I get it.
I know the power is out more than it is on lately. I know that SAA staff can rival the French when it comes to striking. I understand that there is crime and 19% unemployment. I get that the street lights in your street have not been replaced since whenever, and that the potholes in your road can hide a flock of sheep …
I do get it!
The bad stuff can seem overwhelming at times. It’s just … whenever I hear the voice of the discourager, something rises up in me and shouts, “GOD HAS NOT FORSAKEN AFRICA!”
I’m so proud of my fellow South Africans and President Ramaphosa at this point in the Covid-19 pandemic. My Mama is entirely on her own – has not left her house for 20 days. Today is her 70’th birthday! In other news, a friend in Hermanus is making masks for hospital staff in Groote Schuur. In my home village, those that have the means are raising money to give food parcels to the poorest of the poor in the nearby informal settlement. People are offering free online pilates classes and others are running marathons on their driveways!
Nyamazela-ness is what we South Africans have – that’s what many foreigners do not get.
Our famous South African saying, A boer maak ‘n plan, ‘a farmer makes a plan’, is really more than a saying, it’s a cultural identity. Moenie worry nie, ‘don’t worry’, is another.
What a wonderful ripe hotbed of opportunity for entrepreneurs and community-focussed people at this time!
Every day I know that there are people on the ‘front line’ making a difference in South Africa – and all over the globe.
It’s bad, but it’s not all bad.
Am I the only nutcase who still thinks there’s hope?
In the meantime, I’m choosing who I listen to, and we continue to pray.
I know many of you are worried about your businesses, your children, your health, when this all will end and what the far-reaching consequences will be. To that worry, I have only one sensible thing to offer – an Easter quote from N.T. Wright: “I am convinced that when we bring our griefs and sorrows within the story of God’s own grief and sorrow, and allow them to be held there, God is able to bring healing to us and new possibilities to our lives. That is, of course, what Good Friday and Easter are all about.”
P.s. Hubby and I are healthy and getting on with life in the ‘new normal’. I’m counting my blessings.
P.p.s. Moenie worry nie is an Afrikaans saying that speakers of all 12 official South African languages use, Moet jou nie bekommered wees nie is the proper grammatical sentence, but why use textbook Afrikaans when you can jazz it up a bit – it means ‘Don’t worry’ – Hakuna Matata!
P.p.p.p.s. Imagine what it must have been like for Anne Frank and her family living for 2 whole years in lockdown?
P.p.p.p.p.s. Mama and her quilting ladies have also hauled out their sewing machines, scrounged through their material scraps, and are making masks for the whole informal settlement and village of Morgan Bay. There are about 90 families living in MBay. If each household averages out as 4 people, and each person gets one mask to wear and one to wash, that’s A LOT of masks. Wow!
P.p.p.p.p.p.s. “This time too will pass.” I love this, and always thought it came from the Bible, but it turns out it doesn’t. Nevertheless, I still love it and it helps me look beyond the immediate challenges.