So. Being the reflective person I am (also, I’m scrounging around for pieces to upload to this blog so it looks less sad), I found this gem. First piece I wrote this year and in Classic Len style, it’s dry, critical and full of big words I’m not entirely sure the meaning of.
The Human Chain Event happened in February, in Grahamstown. The basic premise of this event, as outlined by the lovely Archbishop Desmond Tutu is to foster unity in Mandela’s name by making a literal human chain by holding hands. Here is my immersion piece, which resulted from finding my place in the chain.
“M Street was the destination – we had all decided on that. However, plans changed in the space of a few minutes and our end-point was Joza Youth Hub. School-children in drimacs stood expectantly under the bus stop shelter and waved South African flags. The bus stop shelter seemed to be the central hub of activity, with green-shirted marshals dotting the periphery. Slowly, the shelter’s crowd diversified. St. Andrew’s boys in immaculate uniforms joined the ranks of Archie Mbulekwa and Nombulelo students. Other journalism students, with cameras and notepads and umbrellas, joined the growing number of participants.
“The rotting dog carcass and soggy rubbish dump nearby visibly raised the visitor’s eyebrows and nostrils. Many looked as if they rued this small show of solidarity. Many looked genuinely excited and wide-eyed at their surrounds”
Once the marshals had spread out the knotted crowd, dished out all the flags, singing began. The younger school-children started and soon, everyone who knew the lyrics was singing along. I flitted around the growing snake of people, finding stories and getting wet. At the head of the snake I found Joza’s ward councillor, Councillor Meti. As our conversation of pleasantries ended, I moved closer to the centre. I slotted myself in, as unobtrusively as possible and asked the girl next to me why she was singing so happily on this dreary day. “Because of Tata Mandela”, she replied. I was perplexed. She could not have been more than 13 years old, not old enough (in my mind) to have been cognisant of Mandela’s public, political and humanitarian efforts in this world, or even in our country. As the allocated hand-holding time period passed, another thought hazily came to mind. Mandela’s legacy does not need an age-appropriate rating.”
Here is a map of the locations the chain snaked its way through. Joza Youth Hub is in the township – commonly reffered to as “the wider community”, “disadvantaged area” and an assortment of other derogatory euphemisms.