I grew up in a Black and White world. I was white and I knew nothing of what it was like to be Black, or Indian or Coloured in South Africa. I did not care. There was no television, no Twitter or Instagram or any form of social Media telling me my sky was going to fall. What I knew was my immediate world. My family, Lina and Dina and then Mina taking care of me. Sam who was my Grandmother’s gardener and chauffeur and the man I spent afternoons with in awe of his ingenuity in rolling cigarettes and charging a block battery in the sun as we sat together on the garden wall. I thought he was the cleverest man in the world. I thought he would take care of me forever.
Call it childhood innocence, call it what you will. I had the sun to wake me in the mornings, discipline at school, church on a Sunday and friends. Respected my elders and played imaginary games in the garden. Unafraid. Whilst others suffered, and fought the injustice, my world broadened to see them too. And we voted for change. We felt relieved, but we felt optimistic and connected at last. That feeling will never go away.
That feeling remains. So much has changed, for the good. We just choose not to see it. When my children shared their desks with others of colour, they thought nothing of it. Until we remind them. Till we voice our negativity and make them afraid of their futures. Rather we choose to follow the media and the bad news. Failing government, crime and corruption and children are now forced to think negatively – damn load shedding, damn the most beautiful country in the world.
Want to run? Want to spend everyday complaining? Go for it. Children of South Africa want to stay, to see the sea for the first time and play on the beach. Now they can. Children of South Africa want an education, and now they go to school. A decent home? Possible. Good jobs? Totally. They want to dream of pretty dresses and playing in open spaces – and they do. Children do not care for politics, or sadness. They live here, everyday a new day, every moment an opportunity to explore. Children of South Africa see her beauty, grow more curious in her landscapes and believe that life is good. We should never pepper them with negativity and loss. We should learn from them and not say ‘not ever’ but ‘how soon.’
For children, negativity is short lived. When we see ‘the bigger picture’ it overwhelms us and we transfer all that negativity on them. On the world and agree with statements like ‘the land is doomed’ and ‘just look at the mess.’
Well, the mess is man made. Adult made. Thank God we have a generation of dreamers in the wings.
Of course we have to grow up and face the music. Of course things are looking a little scary right now. Back to politics, economics and Nkandla. Tourism is down, the world thinks we are being pushed into the sea – but have some faith. Grown up’s are so caught up in issues of life, we have forgotten what it’s like to make a new friend on holiday, or get excited about tomorrow. We have to do it, it’s called being grown up, but sometimes, just stop and think about the fact that children are living here, with hope, with dreams, and ultimately with the power to sort out our mistakes.