It also means some personal emails are getting lost in the “technology” of my daily work life. This is distressing. I am forced to rely on blogging solely for distraction. Commenting behaviour/ topics over the past week are proof of how dire such a situation can become! (Hey my dear dirty little Harry & Tom!)
Onto more fascinating topics…hopefully… Since I was in school I have been watching Special Assignment religiously. That probably is the only thing I can claim I have done religiously, ever. Through school and varsity I would watch each week’s dilemma and vow that I would one day soon be trying to figure out a solution to this.
I still watch it, but I don’t think my idealism is still as strong. I still get as pissed off though. If not more, as by now I have realised that government has such a large role to play in sorting out these dilemmas and yet, we are so often faced (disgraced) with the top honchos’ lack of concern to address these problems, let alone save the tax money and consider spending it in these areas of desperation.
Recent topics have included teenage abortion (hectic video footage, plus my friend’s gorgeous background lyrics), the buying of fake id’s, the state of SA’s roads and how the future only looks gloomy, Sierra Leone kids post-conflict (prompting me to think what I will do in a few years in change to HIV work…conflict psychology & counselling).
This week’s episode was about Somalian refugees being the victims of Xenophobia, most especially in the Cape and Port Elizabeth townships. It was sad, and desperate, and complex. These people are destitute, but they are landing in areas that are already overrun by people in destitution.
I could happily go into this complexity – putting destitute people into areas to compete for resources with local & established destitute people. The extreme violence in the attacks against these people. That a Somali man who was burnt would rather return to his country which is destroyed and still suffering from war than live in SA, which apparently is at peace….what does that say about the way of life in SA!?!
What I did want to recall was a memory I have every time I hear these stories… this Somali man who opened a shop in our student town. It was tiny, filled with random goods, mainly cheaper cigarettes, and it was located next to the latest-open pub in the town. It would be open even when we stumbled out of that hole-of-a-pub at dawn.
I once left the pub in a slight blumbering dronk-verdriet mode – ex-boyfriend & too much cheap wine from a R10 box at the bar! As I walked out feeling very sorry for myself and lonely, this dear Somalian was standing outside and saw this. Without knowing me, he just took my hand and led me into his shop and made me sit at the counter, and gave me a few of the shop’s sweets. I don’t recall him being able to speak English. He just wanted to do what he could to cheer me up, and look after me, and looked so distressed that I was upset. It was the kindest gesture.
After that, we always greeted each other when we ran into each other around town. He was always so sweet & kind. He had such an aura of peace.
I think it was my last official night in that town as a student, (I found the photos and it was actually the morning of Nov 22nd 2003!) that I stumbled out of that same pub and just stood next to him on the pavement & we peacefully & quietly watched the sunrise together, while drunk students ran amuck between the pub, his shop, and the garage across the road.
Even all the people I have met from that corner of the continent have been so sweet & accommodating and open-armed loving to everyone. It is insane for me to think that so many of their countrymen are involved in war crimes as we speak.
On Special Assignment, there was a South African woman being interviewed about her experience of watching a Somali man run into her garden while he was on fire, because some South African had set him alight. She broke down and was sobbing about such a sight & how she had tried to save him with her one and only blanket, about how can we be doing this to people who are so desperate and lost. Where has our humanity gone?
I love that the programme doesn’t try to force a particular version or point of view on you. It brings up questions and leaves you debating and questioning and wondering how on earth all of this can be solved.