I heard this story told by the former public protector a fortnight ago, it was at a business breakfast that we were both speaking at. I will be honest and say I didn’t get the fuss around Thuli Madonsela, until I heard her speak that is. I was even more blown more away by what she is now working on since leaving the PPs office. Service to her people is her genuine purpose in life.
So the story she told was about a tortoise. I have taken some creative license in re telling the story. Once upon a time, a tortoise was walking ever so slowly in the Kruger. Stopping every few minutes to nibble on some dew covered grass. Minding his business he walked towards the local watering hole. It struck him as odd that there was no traffic this morning. He wondered where everyone was today? It was rather quiet for this time of day, usually there was hectic traffic of animals honking at him as they were in a rush to the morning watering hole. He was usually ducking into his shell as the warthogs were very aggressive when they passed him. He often thought warthogs had road rage. The amount of swearing they did as they went by was unnecessary. Luckily for him he had thick skin.
A flock of birds flew above him. He shouted “hey guys what’s happening where is everyone at today?!” The birds laughed and asked if he did not get the memo? He retorted that he did not read his snail mail. “Its some guys birthday party and all the animals are there”, responded the birds. And in fact they too were heading there. The tortoise asked for a lift. The birds swooped down an literally gave him a lift.
When they arrived at the party he was impressed by how the lions were in good behavior. He always thought the king of the jungle thing was the cause of their megalomaniac tendencies.
The tortoise asked Sid the snake who’s party it was. “It’sss ssssome guy’ss party,” replied Sid with a lisp. Sid slithered towards the dance floor, his jam had just come on. Thanks Sid, that’s really helpful, thought the tortoise. The tortoise was distracted by all the food around him, he had never seen so much food! The tortoise continued to ask around an the response was the same.
So he started eating the food at the party, in fact he ate all the food. When the other animals asked him what he was doing, he responded that his name was Some Guy, Somgaga for short and it was his party! The food was therefore his! At the end of the party the animals started making their way home. The tortoise was full and he knew the way home would take him days at this rate. He whistled to the birds for a ride back home. The birds were stretching and readying themselves for a take off back home.
The birds indulged the tortoise and they gave him another lift. When they got to cruising altitude ten minutes in to the flight, they dropped the cargo. This is the reason that the tortoise now has patched looking shell. The tortoise shell had broken into many pieces. The tortoise did eventually glue them back, albeit clumsily.
The moral of the story is obvious but what I took out of this fable was that you should never eat alone. You need others. To change the world it starts with you. Then you need your community to have individuals who share your view.
That means you need to have ubuntu first, then you need abantu.
Dear black people, at some point the blame is on us and not with the white birds flying above us. The white birds are not without blame, true they did drop us and broke us into a million pieces. But it’s time to piece ourselves back together. The reason the white birds fly so high and move so fast is that they work together. They even have a name for it, flock. Birds of a feather flock together. We black people like the tortoise arrived at the party and ate. We weren’t always like this though. In the beginning were about community first. At some point we changed. Whether this change was brought on by the white birds when they migrated from Europe, it really does not matter. No one should be able to change our value system.
I wrote a blog about vernacular private schools, this blog resonated with so many people, it is my highest read blog! You can read it here if you missed it. This blog clearly resonated with people and I got responses from all over the world including Ireland. People were blaming the white birds for this problem. The birds have good schools, the birds this and the birds that. Blame is the best excuse in the world for not getting shit done. Blame is often legitimate. The birds did fly from somewhere and they did drop us from the sky into a million pieces. That is true. But is also true that natural resources have been both a gift and a curse for Africa. Like the tortoise we did arrive at the party and we have been chowing the embarrassment of riches. In my vernacular blog I put forward that it was time that we put the pieces back together again and let’s invest in our children’s future by building vernacular after care schools…everyone said great idea but not a single person said what next or how do we mobilize or where do I send a cheque? Everyone wants change but no one wants to change. This behavior is creepy and ironically that’s what a collective of tortoise is called, a creep.
It’s also ironic that black people created crowd funding. We have had stockvels for generations. We could fund a school very quickly but instead the stockvel money sits in burial societies and with retailers so that we can grocery shop in December.
Dear black people, I know this is an over simplified argument but it’s time to put the pieces back together. Our kids won’t blame the birds they will blame us. If we won’t serve each other, let’s at least serve our kids.
– Please post your thoughts below.
– If you see any grammatical errors please let me know so I can fix them. I type these blogs on my phone with very little time, so sometimes there errors. Plse don’t Bonang me🙈
– Dont forget to forward to friends and family.