Tag Archives: holiday

Take Your Pick

We give things away because we need to,
we literally learn to give gifts
to strangers, with labels
to fix ourselves.
We do this as a process
until we are ready to be the gift.

I give and give and give
until I learn to be the gift.

This is not clever word play, it is the normal path.
Small kids are taught to share, we celebrate when they share food and toys.

Then we lose it, for pragmatic justifications of comfort and safety.
Life becomes small as we become big.

As a youngster I used to be very active in church life.
In my twenties I lived in a rural Mozambican village for six years.
I got a Masters in Development Studies.
I’m leading a large national non-profit.

Yet, I’m learning most, seeing most, from ordinary people around me
ordinary people being extra-ordinary generous.

I present four life giving, mind blowing examples:

Thulani, picked up a disabled abandoned baby in Umlazi, he and his wife took this baby under their care, despite living in a RDP house and having very little themselves.

My sister Sunelle and her husband, after having three amazing biological kids, Adopted a black baby called Joshua. They too are not wealthy. Much wealthier than Thulani, but on a tight budget and vulnerable compared to other Afrikaans families.

Thulani and Sunelle might be so good and courageous that we don’t associate with them, we
play games in our heads that call them special or gifted, unlike us…

My other sister Irma and her husband went on holiday in December and took a young white girl from their kid’s school with them. The girl, Leanne lives with a single mom, has never seen the ocean and never had a Christmas gift. She is very poor, by any standard, but enjoyed a fantastic December with our Van Heerden family, and she was a gift to us.

My friend Adri-Marie van Heerden, opened up their fancy family home in the bushveld, and not only invited Anathi (from Zandspruit Informal settlement), but allowed him to pick who goes away to the house for Easter weekend. Luckily I got invited. As I drove the open Toyota game viewer by myself, between wild animals, I felt privilege, free and lucky. So did Anathi. He told me that usually everything has to go right, and then after 30 years of work one might be able to enjoy such a weekend.

That is when I was reminded, not just of heroes like Thulani and Sunelle, but smart courageous
non-assholes like Irma and Adri-Marie who chose to realise a human hospitality that pulls ubuntu out of dictionaries, power-points and philosophy books and cleaned our eyes with it, wiped our faces fresh and folded around our hearts.

It is that easy.

So, take your pick.
Too scared to adopt an abandoned baby?
Take someone on holiday, your holiday.
give the kind of love that smells of respect and looks like dignity…

We have to give,
until we learn
how to be
the gift.

Sunelle's child
Sunelle’s child
At the beach in Port Alfred
At the beach in Port Alfred
near Thabazimbi at an Afrikaner holiday home...
near Thabazimbi at an Afrikaner holiday home…


Thulani's adopted baby
Thulani’s adopted baby
Thulani coaching a community female football team
Thulani coaching a community female football team


Sometimes the wealthy are proud to refer to themselves as a man or woman of leisure. In a way, leisure is the fulfilment and culmination of wealth; in the absence of a higher or lower purpose.

This December was the first time in about 12 years that I did not spend my festive season in Manica, Mozambique. Manica is nota tourist town at the coast, and when I’m there I try to serve- the place is not geared for my pampering. 2014’s end saw me go to holiday spots. I’m inclined to say white holiday spots since despite the fact that 90% of our country consists of black people, only 10% of the ‘holiday goers’ were black. This is a persistent legacy of apartheid: white leisure.

On Port Alfred’s Royal golf course I spoke to an old Afrikaner and when he heard what I do for a job he said: “Do you still have hope for this bloody country?!” to which I replied: “Oom, as mens nie hoop het nie moet jy maar trek.” The uncle was complaining about the country, but he is substantially unaffected by any of the things he complains about. He ended our chat with a “let’s not talk politics, I’m supposed to enjoy my retirement.” A man of leisure.

To be clear, I was part of the white holiday vibe. I spent endless ZAR’s on myself and my biological family, justified by the notion that for 10 years I spent all my December cash on Manicans. The justification only numbs half of my conscience though…

Driving through the Karoo, I stopped at a farm stall and was talked into buying half a lamb. Great meat at a cheaper price. The Afrikaner lady explained all the different pieces of meat to me and to bags consisted of weird things like bones, chunks of fat and kidneys. She asked me if I have dogs to which I replied “no”. So she said, in Afrikaans, in front of other customers which included black people: “gee dit dan maar vir die bediende”. This little anecdote first shocked me and then made me think of reality: The majority of domestics would in fact even buy those pieces of meat, and some whites would indeed give it to their dogs. All the while the Umlungu (or very wealthy blacks) would nibble on the premium chops, steak and ribs. Meat of leisure vs meat for sustenance.

Don’t get me wrong: I loved my holiday. I too was raised as a son of leisure. Not because we went on fancy holidays as kids (in fact we didn’t), but because I grew up expecting and anticipating these ‘finer’ things in life. 2014’s holiday was an indulgence for me and I used my girl and family as a rationale for feeling less selfish about it all. Something can indeed be wrong and right at the same time. #greytruth

Our country is in shit, the irony is that the only ones complaining are the ones that don’t need to complain! Complaining whilst playing golf, driving a Mercedes, sitting in a holiday home (yes there are such things!). And the millions sitting in badly built shacks waits for a dream that wont show up. The wealthy enjoy their perpetual leisure, but they also perpetuate their wealth by working hard and sharpening their skills. After their December ‘rest’ they will hit the marketplace hard and build up more resources to enjoy at the end of the next calendar year. The poor remains trapped. Their leisure is not built up over the year. The leisure of the poor is short term: cheap dring in cheap places.

Before we blame the rich white people for their sophisticated leisure, be sure the poor don’t save the whole year to invest in the community, books, children’s education or missions trips. The majority of poor men uses their extra Rands to sit and dring and talk shit. More money and the leisure becomes more sohisticated: instead of papsak it’s bottles of beer, instead of beer it becomes Jack Daniels, instead of alcohol it becomes shoes, instead of shoes it’s cars…

Mzansi: we are united in an endless pursuit of selfish leisure.

You can blame…

You can complain…

Instead of pointing fingers, we should rather ask ourselves a simple personal question. A personal question that will shatter our generalisations and philosophical arguing and justifications:

Will you present and lay your leisure- not in front of the Christmas Tree, but in front of the Tree with a Man hanging on it?

And what would He say?

“Wie is die ONS in die ‘Ons vir jou Suid Afrika'”?