One afternoon in Langa I ended up having a (very!) long conversation with a middle-aged, black man.
We spoke about injustice, living conditions, dreams, hate, hope. About life, really.
There was one piece in particular in what he said that I cannot forget.
He spoke of the "black culture in townships".
I do not remember the exact words, but they went something like this:
People are hard and brutal to each other. To be tough you should be cold, powerful and unreachable.
We compete and we put each other down.
And the young ones.... They do not matter! We do not see them, talk to them nor do we listen to them. They should just be quiet and obey. We don't know them!
The young ones....
And then they grow up to be exactly like us! Frustrated, sad and cold on the inside.
This is just the way it is. This is the way it has always been done.
We do not know anything else. This is the circle.
Then you guys come here.
You show that things can be different.
You show us another way. The other way.
And we want to learn!
If you want to teach us.
Teach us. About love...
As it darkled we drove home through the streets of the township.
I watched the people wandering by out there. I wondered what their stories were. Each and every one of them with a different story.
I could not get the man's words out of my head.
They had gone straight to my heart.
His sincerity, his frustration, his humbleness, his concern & open arms.
I smiled and whispered to myself quietly:
"You have no idea, do you? You got no clue how much YOU just taught ME.