We just returned from one of the most incredible days of my life,  I will share with you tomorrow after I have had some time to process.  My heart has rarely been fuller. 

One of the things that consumes me about South Africa is its age.  The first democratic and free elections were held only in 1994.  From that time on “Africans” as they were called politically, the black natives that composed an 84% majority, went from unable to vote to running a country (as well as every province, city and village).  That would be enough but every other institution that had been run by minority whites had to come into the new age as well.  So such staples as broadcasting and higher education had a massive turnover in leadership.  The end of the long fight against Apartheid had developed a motivated and disciplined generation that would fill so many of these cracks. 

At age seventeen there are struggles.  Aren’t there always at age 17?  The governing party, the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela’s party, has gone from heroes of a revolution to leadership of whom much is expected.  As it should be.  Unemployment is at 25% and a strike is beginning to slow down the country.  Political violence is too often a weapon but now it is likely black on black.  Yet, for all these challenges, you cannot help to feel hope here.  Every time you look anywhere there is a miracle.  The impossible has become commonplace and you get a sense that South Africans can hardly believe freedom was achieved  such a short time ago What was so  long fought for is coming to fruition, even with some significant trials.  But this land is based on hope does not disappoint.

But for once, the monkey business is not politics.  It is indeed about monkeys.  Last night we were admiring the fruit tree in the backyard and our hostess Louise noted that they are lucky to get them before the monkeys pick them off the trees.  Monkeys?  Oh sure there are plenty around like stray cats.  The dogs go nuts and usually scare them away but once or twice they have even come inside.  Diana and Carol was tremendously excited.  I am a bit terrified.  Last night, as I was in bed, the dogs went nuts.  Monkeys I thought.  Then I noticed my window was open.  Sure there are bars, but isn’t that what monkeys like?  I was fearful of a monkey jumping in my window and landing on my bed.  When I related this to Diana, she became excited and saying that monkeys on a bed is childhood story/song come true.  I immediately pointed out that the moral of story was that no more monkeys should be jumping on a bed and that was my policy.

Sure enough, as we toured the university this afternoon, there were monkeys.  A sight to delight a seven-year old girl and her 46-year-old mother.  Everyone else felt assured that they did not mind our presence and went on doing monkey things.  I am still a bit nervous precisely because our presence gave them no pause.  Darn city monkeys.  I will literally keep you posted.  I have a feeling/fear this story is not over.

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