Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Optimism - 'The Rainbow Nation'
Well a day does not go by in Cape Town when I'm not blown away by people who enjoy life and display such enthusiasm and have such optimistic values and morals.
A visit last weekend to 'Slaves at the Cape' a museum surrounded by a history of oppression, life and legacy. The history of slaves at the Cape has been hidden, silenced and almost forgotten.
For 180 years the Cape was a slave society, built on labour of imported slaves and their descendants who were born into slavery. Slaves inside the lodge was owned by the biggest single slave-owner. Most of the Company's slaves lived and died in the Lodge. About 9,000 were kept between 1679 - 1811.
When I first walked in I felt a cold chill down my spine, and quite sick in the stomach. There were shocking images and horrific stories about the inhumane and a series of brutal punishments that were endured over time. The place that holds so much oppression and where brutality entrenched the lives of every single human daily, bears the history, where by-passers and local citizens are constantly reminded of such pain.
Yet the local Capetonian's believe that they are here because of the surviving instincts of their ancestors and they forever worship their freedom fighters. They are not angry about the past, what can they do about it? I have come across very few people who are angry about the past! One thing I found is most people have what they call an 'Internal Locus of Control', they are empowered by what they are in control of, the things they can't simply accept, they shift their mind-set or remove themselves from that environment.
It probably has a lot to do with the great man Mr Nelson Mandela. After being imprisoned for 27 years and then finally a 'Free Man' and not an angry bone in his body. "There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires". This famous quote of his says it all.
Each day I can't help but to stare out my window when traveling to the schools or to the office and I pass by 'Table Mountain' on my right, and then to the left 'Robben Island' the place where Indigenous African leaders, anti-apartheid activists, including South Africa's first democratic President, Nelson Mandela and the founding leader of the Pan Africanist Congress, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, were all imprisoned on the Island. Robben Island has not only been used as a prison. It was a training and defence station in World War II and a hospital for people with leprosy, and the mentally and chronically ill. One side just in awe of such greatness with the mountain and then another ill-fated lesson of history in view of the Island.
Today Scott and I were invited to attend a school, not just an ordinary school, but one for students who have ambition, some as young as 17 up to 28. We participated in a program called Business, Expenses, Savings Training or BEST GAME, it is interactive and experience based. It simulates real business conditions and life scenarios in the training room. The process gets participants to weigh up information, make decisions and react to the consequences. Participants see the results of their actions and experience the thrills and spills of real life activity.
It was amazing to take part and make new friends. I sat with this young lady, she was so full of life and enthusiasm. She said she had returned to school to get her degree and wanted to study business. Here in South Africa there is no social welfare. You have to work as an employee, further your studies or become an owner of your own business, and that is what she wanted to do, own her own business. We got talking, she told me she was 26, a mother of 2. One child 10 the other 6. I asked her what her husband did, she replied 'He was shot here', I have been a widow for 3 years. I said I was sorry! She replied, 'It's OK, I have accepted it, I have to be strong and make a good life for my children'.
Again that moment occurred. Here was a young lady, not angry, but one whom is optimistic about a positive life she chooses to create for her fatherless children.
I love life!!! I feel truly blessed with my family, and what I have personally worked hard to earn, and achieve. I feel even more blessed that I am fortunate to come across people who inspire me to do more with what I have to offer!