A taste of heaven

I am going to bed tonight with a full heart. I am in Kayamandi, a township in South Africa which is a mixture of informal settlement made out of sheet metal and wood alongside brick houses. We have been staying with some new friends, a couple who moved into the township some 17 years ago. They were, and still are, the only white people in the community.

They did not move here to run a programme or start a project but to do life and make friends. And make friends they have. Their house is full of people, they are greeted in the street, they are part of the community.

I asked them about the lack of home security in a country where many peoples homes are fortresses to protect them from the kind of people who live in Kayamandi. Living as part of the community of Kayamandi they had no security. They paused and responded that there was a choice.

You either live with fear or you live with your neighbours. There are consequences to either choice but we choose the neighbours

They are great company. They don’t pretend to be poor but neither are they ostentatious with their wealth. They share their skills and expertise and resources generously. Today we talked and prayed and walked in the country, went wine tasting in Stellenbosch and ended up in a theatre restaurant.

The theatre is one of the many ventures that they have made happen in Kayamandi. It serves township food and employs local people. The cast is drawn from the community and performs a show of music and dance that combines songs of protest, celebration and mourning and just great music that gets everyone dancing.

Someone said to me tonight that apartheids greatest injustice was that it relentlessly told people that they were not good enough. Tonight a group of young people whose voice could have been stolen by oppression and violence and poverty sang their hearts out. And 120 of us stood up to cheer.