Tomorrow, I will have to start packing.
I am tired and all I want to do is sleep.
But I can’t.
Forgive these choppy sentences. They aren’t very creative.
The last time I left you all was in the midst of our time in the incredible orphanage over in Addo.
I can’t emphasize how good it felt to give to these kids. They deserve so much more than 9+ luggages full of clothing. Simply wearing shorts that didn’t sport tears, or shirts that weren’t falling apart, was a luxury they didn’t always have.
I used to think I was low income. But, thinking about my life back in Seattle…I start to wonder.
What does this even mean?
What does this even mean.
It was hard.
I knew we all wanted to stay much longer. Yet, our next destination waited on the horizon. A place as rich in history as this orphanage was in love.
We did go. I climbed into the van and headed towards the back. My seat. The one with the most leg room. I watched as we pulled out of that dirt drive way, pot holes making our vehicle jump and jolt. The kids all waved, their hands whipping in the air. Everyone waved back just as heartedly and soon the van was a buzz with stories. Experiences. Sadness. Memories.
The children grew smaller. The landscape grew greener. Soon, they were gone and we were moving forward.
Until we arrived to our set destination.
Steven Biko Foundation.
Above, I stand before a legend. Believe me. Courage doesn’t even begin to describe the character of this man. Diving right into the oppression of Apartheid without reservation, Steven Biko was the father of Black Consciousness. Blacks and Coloureds (people of Color in South Africa) took pride in themselves under his guidance. They fought against their internalized inferiority, came together, and raised their voices against the tyrannical government. Countless great leaders arose in this time, when Black and Coloured South Africans decided enough was enough.
Biko was one of them.
Each chair you see held an individual who sat completely still. Riveted. Captivated by these talented actors who reenacted the life of Steven Biko.
I wish you could have been there.
The play covered countless aspects of Biko’s life. But there was one that remains stamped in my memory. Even now.
It was when Biko was arrested, the very last one he’d ever experience. The actor that represented him stood in the middle of the stage. Alone.
Feet planted on two cement blocks, shirt torn away to symbolize his nakedness, the actor stared straight ahead, unflinchingly into the audience. I couldn’t read the expression on his face, but his eyes burned with so many things, so many emotions. I couldn’t stop watching. Then the next scene unfolded.
Flocking both of his sides in a half arc, stood the policemen. In their fists lay imaginary clubs, weapons of murder.
Faces etched in enmity and abhorrent satisfaction, they loudly challenged Biko and began to beat him. With each swing, all four actors stomped –BOOM- on the stage floor.
It sounded like thunder.
Biko writhed and convulsed, bent forward and bent backward, crying out and retching, arms flailing, until he collapsed.
His body stiff and motionless on the stage.
No one in the audience moved. I couldn’t breathe.
I couldn’t think.
I’ve been to a few plays in my life, but none of them, none, instilled in me the importance of a single human being’s plight to justice, than this one did.
The actresses clutched at their hearts. Then..they began to sing these heart wrenching, hauntingly mesmerizing tones of mourning.
It took everything in me not to cry.
Human beings of this caliber should be spoke of. Often.
I never knew who this man was, what he did, until I took this class.
In light of his militaristic ideals, his political genius, some have compared him to the States’ Malcolm X.
I cannot help but think we never should be in a predicament that force people like him to develop. To have no other alternative than to become an activist.
Men and women, who give their lives for the fullness of others. Dying for a cause they believe in, something that is undeniably right.
Being in this foundation building, given tours by staff members that are inexplicably passionate about what they do, and watching this play?
It’s maddening to process this all.
Below, you will find pictures of Steve Biko’s Mother’s house and his grave site. Two places we also visited. Two places that will both remain embedded into my being.
I will add more when I can. This road trip is certainly not over. And we leave in…ahh. Should I even say it? Just acknowledging it seems surreal.
I may have to continue this back home.
Take care everyone. I will see you very, very soon.