I was planning to write a different post, but then Knysna started burning. The devastation is staggering. People, animals, vegetation, property… The list goes on. Six lives claimed by the furnace and the damage is currently estimated to be over R 4 billion. This drone footage gives you a glimpse of the aftermath left by the fire monster.
My heart breaks for everyone affected, and I am saddened that there is a possibility that the fires were started deliberately. But what is really pulling on my heart strings at the moment are the people of South Africa.
Ubuntu is defined as “a quality that includes the essential human virtues; compassion and humanity”.
A phoenix rising from the ashes
We had supper with friends last week and of course conversation turned to the state of our country and how many people are leaving and immigrating. Many people we know still come home to visit family and friends, but others have completely turned their backs on South Africa because of the rampant crime and corruption. We have toyed with the idea of immigration, but I have never had a “pull” to pack up my life and start over elsewhere. I am not judging or saying those who have left is wrong, as we all make decisions that we deem the right ones for our families. But as for me, I will have hope. I will have hope for South Africa.
When I express this hope, people start quoting crime stats, and think that, if they merely mention the Gupta’s or Zuma, my hope will diminish. But I haven’t felt such a strong sense of hope for our country since Knysna started burning. The fire is a tragedy, yes, but from the ashes a phoenix is busy rising. A phoenix that is the spirit of Ubuntu in South Africa. When people sent out cries of help for food, clothes, and basic necessities, those who were donating didn’t first check what race or social status those in need were. No, they opened their hearts immediately because a fellow South African was in need.
The spirit of Ubuntu
In this time of loss and destruction, South Africans are pushing the politics, the discrimination, the racism, the Gupta’s, and the Zuma’s aside, and we uniting in the spirit of Ubuntu. It didn’t take long for people to start Facebook support groups, set-up disaster management funds, get people to run and man crises centers, all in an attempt to help those affected by the fires. The response has been amazing – people are donating money, clothes, food, and whatever else is needed. Everyone is pitching in to help those who lost everything.
I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be defined by the colour of my skin, or my social status, or the job I do, or any other measuring stick that the world can come up with. I want to be defined by the fact that I am a human being. I want to be defined by my heart for people. I want to be defined by my actions when others are in need. I want to be defined by Ubuntu.
Hope is alive and well in South Africa. It is rising from the ashes and it is bringing people across our country together like I haven’t seen in a while. People came together on the 22nd of April in Bloemfontein for It’s Time to pray for our country. And it is in moments of fire that our prayers have an opportunity to go over into action and we can really show how we care for each other.
Some may have lost hope in and for South Africa, but my hope is stronger than ever before. Hope is rising in our country and that is exactly why I will stay right here. This is what makes South Africa great – people standing together and reaching out a helping hand in moments of need.