Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why I still have hope

Today I drove into a neighbourhood very close to where I grew up. The best description for it would probably be “the hood”, but in reality that term would probably be a romantic notion for what this is.
As we drive in, the dust is thick in the air. There are no trees or any other vegetation to stop the soil from overpowering the stale air. Young men sit at the side of the road doing whatever it is that the unemployed do. A young girl runs up the street with a tattered skirt and no top. A toddler not much older than my son swears vehemently at his mother. Life has a certain kind of lifelessness here.
And despite my sadness, despair and hopelessness at what surrounds me in that moment, I am overwhelmed by a deep sense of deep gratitude for not being a part of this tragic scene. I look over at my son, reassured that this level of poverty will not mark his young life, that he will know something better.
All of these realisations are a real watershed moment in my life right now. For so long, I have been sunk in something close to depression. I look at the magnitude of the poverty, crime and inequality in this country and I despair – is there any real hope?
But as we make our way to my aunt’s house to see my grandmother who has just arrived from Cape Town, I see four generations of hope sitting around the table with me. My Ma, who grew up poverty-stricken, worked in a factory for most of her adult life, and who now presides over a brood of 8 children, 30 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren – all healthy, happy, educated and competent.
My dad, who spent his youth fighting seven siblings for a slice of bread, growing up in Q-town, the yester-year version of the Cape Flats. A man who couldn’t complete his schooling and was chucked out of a couple of “respectable Christian establishments” for voicing his opinion on their lack of response to the Apartheid regime. A man who has literally set foot on every continent in the globe, who has met dignitaries and world-influencers, who has made his mark on the world.

Then there’s me. Although I am still shaping my path, I have gone further along the road of education than anyone else in my family. I too have travelled and seen way beyond the world of my humble beginnings in a non-white neighbourhood. I have had the privilege to influence and shape many lives along the way.
And on my lap (protesting vehemently at not being allowed to run riot through the house) is my two-year old son, Cole. At this age, he speaks English almost fluently and is starting to learn Zulu. He is learning to swim and starting to read numbers. He navigates my iPhone with absolute ease and knows how to get the cereal HE wants out of the pantry. Above all, he has all the opportunity in the world lying wide open before him – NO LIMITS!
All of this life, energy and beauty sprang forth from a situation not that far off from the one I saw today. If anything, the start was much worse because of the restrictions of Apartheid. And yet here we stand, testament to the power of a mother’s love, a story of hope in the midst of hardship, the reason why I can still hope.

1 comment:

  1. Flip, what an awesome post. Seriously. This is brilliant!!!!! Well done!