Kindness and decency bring joy and happiness
09:00 (GMT+2), Tue, 31 July 2012
I’ve always believed in kindness and decency. A little kindness brings lots of joy, appreciation and happiness. And that’s what the 67 Minutes for Madiba was all about. I witnessed a small miracle of compassion and gentleness at the Bovaal Agricultural School in the Free State’s Bothaville district last week.
A group of ladies in town decided to knit scarves for the school’s learners as their contribution to the 67 Minutes and to wish them good luck for their final shift at Bovaal before they’re transferred to other schools for Grades 9 and 10. I was invited to join the occasion. I wish everyone could have shared in the youngsters’ joy and appreciation. It wasn’t so much about the scarves, but the mutual goodwill. The school caters mainly for farm workers’ children and learners bussed in from nearby townships.
It was most probably the first time the majority of these children have ever met a group of white women on that level. Women who laughed with them, held their hands and hugged them spontaneously. Gestures which are by far the most important building blocks for a prosperous and peaceful South Africa, as far as I’m concerned. One of the ladies had tears in her eyes on the way back. Ten years ago she would never have visited a ‘black school’, she said. This day was a victory for her, a victory over racial bias and unfounded fears, she continued.
Please don’t scoff at her. All South Africans above the age of 50 or so are to some or other degree a victim of the angst, skewed perceptions and twisted realities we’ve been brought up with. I take my hat off to this woman, who had the courage to face her fears. Projects and interactions such as these are in a certain sense much more important than any political initiative. They break down barriers on grassroots levels and build positive relationships that transcend colour, political affiliations and social standing.
They help us to look into each others’ eyes and see the person, not just the face. I know it’s become a cliché, but the only way to build a thriving South Africa is to work from the bottom up – with projects such as the Bothaville ladies’ scarves.