Tuesday, June 20, 2006

storytelling, walking manenburg, and more world cup

My two measly stories didn't quite fill in life of late here, but for once, my post was pretty short, so maybe I should learn a lesson from that.

More happenings here:
-As I have said a bunch in the previous posts, I am loving staying in the house with Siyasonga, Sebu, Charles, Nfundo, and Tulani who have taken me around Khayelitsha from the churches to the taverns (crazy beligerent drunks shouting Xhosa at me and then at the tv is quite an experience, try it sometime), cheered on multiple world cup games with me, challenged me in soccer, taught me bits of Xhosa, and on the list goes. The other day, we were cheering on Ghana in the house and started jumping around and screaming with joy so loudly when they scored that a bunch of little kids ran up to the house to make sure everything was ok. But alas, it was great, for Ghana had won. I am struggling between rooting for Ghana or the US in the next game. I think I am feeling a bit more spirit on this side of things :-)

-I got to visit Manenburg (a poorer "colored" community known for its gangs) with two of the youth workers from the Warehouse. They took me on a walk through the neighborhood, and I was struck by the great similarities it had to many of the poorer American communities. Instead of the more obvious shacks in the townships, this had rows and rows of broken down flats, just like our projects, in which the poverty is much more hidden but seemingly as pervasive. For this community, it has almost been worse than a lot of the squatter communities, obvious by the dozens of fights I saw by little kids as we walked through the streets. But again, people were very welcoming and shocked to see us, and a huge group of children gathered around me, begging me to come back and play soccer with them. How could I explain that I could not return the next day? I tried to be saying I lived in Khayelitsha, which brought up a whole new interesting subject. "you live with BLACK people? You have got to be kidding. Aren't you scared?" And what was even more shocking was that many of the people saying this were of about the same skin tone as the guys I lived with. When I told some of the guys that I had been to Manenburg, they were equally surprised, "It's dangerous there. I wouldn't walk those streets." How successful was apartheid? VERY. Enough to cause a huge rift to this day between people over nothing, enough to incite extreme fear even between oppressed communities to seperate from one another. How disturbing is that? What can I do, if anything, to help break that divide? It is like the story of the two fish, seperated by a piece of cardboard in a tank-- once the cardboard is "lifted" the divide has driven deep enough for the fish to remain in their opposite sections...How do we get over those fears, heal the wounds, address the bases of these cycles of violence, poverty, seperation? Jack (man of god) and I discussed this for quite a while the other night, as I tried to say (in response to a thing about roots being personal sin) that I thought it was very much an issue that the wealthy have to deal with-- especially the wealthy who call ourselves Christian but fail to give up our comforts, fail to even ride a bus with people from Khayelitsha out of "fear", ignore the hundreds of pages of scripture that address the issue. but we pick and choose.

-"Mulungo, mulungo," a guy on the taxi from one area in Khayelitsha to another said to me. I had no idea what this meant, but was told by Siya that it meant "white person." The man then proceeded to ask rhetorically why I was in khayelitsha and answer with his own question with "To be able to go home and say that you saw poor blacks living in shacks." And I didn't respond, but thought about it...thought about the fact that I had been looking up a cape point trip online and came across a "township tour" in which people ride a bus and view people in places like khayelitsha as if they are a zoo. Thought about how true that could be on so many levels, and prayed that it wasn't. No wonder he asks, but what could I answer? I sat in silence for a while, thinking about why I was there-- to live where I was working, to try to immerse myself instead of seperate myself in American culture, or rich privileged white culture, to get to know people who understand community, to learn things to confront stereotypes with. I want to live in a place like Khayelitsha! Could I explain that? But there was a part of me that still had to question my motives. There was a large part that hurt-- not only for that questioning but for the fact that it is often true-- his statement-- of me and of so many of us. We have a long way to go for reconciliation.

-On Friday, we all (the guys from the house) went to a place called "Hoops for Hope" with a group of visiting Americans who help fund this mentoring program. We spent the afternoon playing soccer on the basketball court, and then playing basketball as "South Africa" vs "America". I got to be an honorary South African which would have been nice had Sebu not played basketball as if it was american football...

-Went to church Sunday in Khayelitsha and got to enjoy a worship in which nobody attempted to translate for me. I understood very little, but I almost got more out of it than when people did translate. There is something wonderful about letting loose, listening to rythm and feeling spirit without having to understand everything in my own language. I know now how important it is to learn language to connect with people. Good to remember for the future.

This is long, slow, and boring. My apologies. I try to keep things in stories but end up going on long and rambling tangents. I am moving today back to town for a few days as the guys are going on a retreat. I'll get to catch up with emails some and meet up with Matt Craig and some of the other UNC students as well. WRITE ME EMAILS! I miss you all. Hope you didn't make it this far :-)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hudson, Lots of us are reading your blog, even though we aren't commenting. Love the stories. Love the reflections. Don't stop! It makes us feel as though we are there with you. Love, all your family. XXXXOOOO