Perhaps for me the most outstanding memory of being in Cape Town, South Africa, was the extremes between rich and poor. And perhaps most noticeable was that in as much as some things were different, some things were so similar to home.
The stark differences between the townships, like our local Beetham, and the residential areas was heartrending. Particularly when I viewed District 6 a few days later and saw the areas from which the people were relocated to the townships.
The cultured speech and bearing of our driver was another contrast as he was well dressed, driving a Mercedes Benz van and going home to his makeshift room in a township.
The townships there in Cape Town consisted of three types of dwellings. There were the houses built by the government, very small and inadequate mind you. There were the leased rooms by those who had government houses and there were rented rooms that were like squatters rooms.
The squatters have started building two storey galvanised dwellings as space is definitely a problem in the townships.
My heart was filled with compassion. It is so difficult to see the conditions under which some of us have to dwell. It exists here in Trinidad too. It is so easy to judge others and yet it becomes so difficult to judge when their challenges are considered.
On the one hand though there are people who work hard and honestly to improve themselves and their families. On the other, there are those who turn to crime as a means of survival. What makes one person work assiduously with integrity and another become a criminal?
I was so moved by the performances of some of the young people that we were privileged to witness. We had spoken word performances, singing, musical entertainment, dance and an instrumental performance using buckets and drumsticks only!
Wow!! That is the best sentiment I can offer. Thank goodness my socks were only figuratively blown off. The centre at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens was unheated. I was the only person who had on gloves but I was still extremely cold.
The others suffered in silence except for when I was acknowledged as being smart enough to have gloves! They did not know just how unaccustomed I am to the cold!
The dedication, commitment, diligence, skill and talent of those young persons tugged at my heart strings. I literally cried after one dance performance. The pain was so clearly etched on their faces.
The excellence they achieved with solemn, focussed looks on their faces made me feel as one with them. I felt everything they were expressing and so I could not help but cry.
They performed in an elaborate setting with basic equipment and a tee shirt and pair of jeans or other trousers. Another contrast!
Yes! it is easy to choose to be filled with hate and anger and to be unforgiving but surely at some level we can find it in our hearts to find ways to deal with the unfairness and the beastly behaviour of some persons and not choose to hate a person simply because they bear similarity to another who may have caused pain or hurt.
Tell me how can one not be filled with love for fellow human beings when there is so much we have in common, whether white or black, global north or south, rich or poor…