Yesterday we visited the KwaMuhle Museum in Durbin which depicts the massive effort to provide “pure” separation of the races.  In the very building which houses the museum, black Africans underwent the humiliation of receiving their passes.  They teemed into a courtyard, were dipped into lye to prevent the spread of Typhoid fever and then received a pass which gave them the right to look for work in the city. Be anywhere without the permit and you cold land in jail.    They would have to leave each evening make Durbin a city that was “White by night.”  It is typical of the new South Africa is that the ugliness of the history is redeemed by the housing this museum.  Time and time again, South Africans confront their pain and find the seeds of their hope. 

We then toured Stanley’s hometown, the Township of KwaMashu.  Townships were founded to house black Africans, “Colored,” (the term used by the rulers to describe people of mixed race) and Indians  (South Africa, and especially Durbin have a huge Indian population.)  The trick for the white rulers was to keep a labor force at the ready while keeping the majority populations from possessing any real rights.  If whites wanted to expand their land, they simply moved the people of color further out.  KwaMashu is 20 kilometers away on a hill overlooking the city.  Ironically, any community that close to the city with a tremendous view of both the skyline and the ocean would command a million dollars in the U.S..  Here, it meant a longer walk to get to work and home. 

But this is another story where hope grows among the weeds.  Those same townships that were begun in apartheid are now the responsibility of the government.  As we traveled with Stanley, we saw new construction.  We saw pride and community.  There is still severe poverty.  There is still too little work.  There is still not adequate housing.  But the housing is improving as we saw in a tour of homes.  The Township is blessed by community Centers where Stan teaches karate.  And the Township is blessed by people like Stan who feel an abiding love for the community of their birth.  But the greatest reason for hope is again the people.  I knew why Stan would still would still love a place like this; why he returns rather than escapes.  I saw it in the smile of his brother who lives next door to the same house where Stan grew up with 13 siblings.  I felt the joy all shared that Stan’s son had won the nationwide Class Act reality show.  KwaMashu has produced a champion!  But above all, I  heard it.  As I looked down the hillside I could hear people calling out from one simple home to another.  Interdependent and wrapped in each others lives as people sharing a crowded hillside must necessarily be, the murmur that echoed up the hill was ubantu:  the Zulu word that describes a community intimately bound with each other.  When Africans find a way to go forward, they do it together.  That is why the visit to the Township, which I had seen as a day to explore the bleakness of the county was indeed antother day of inspiration.  May we possess ubantu in our lives and as well.

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