Kliptown

 

Greeted by the beating of drums and hearts. The same blood pumps through our veins invigorating our humanity. I squint against the sun looking out over the spirit of Kliptown, blinded by the white light reflecting off the aluminum roofs of the shanty houses.

 

I turn the corner into KYP: the energy hits, adrenaline rises and I am lost in the moment. Pulled into all that is raw and right. Somehow my body knows exactly how to move, it is as if the beat is engrained in the fiber of my being. Grasping onto the hands of the Kliptown youth I am swept into the rhythm of connection.

 

Song invites the past to dance with the present and begs the future to join. Lost in the moment, my body and mind sync with my brothers and sisters. Exchanging our voices and movements we are fully present and unafraid even in the unknown.

 

We are more home than we have ever been—because we are finally seen by those who we thought did not see us. Wide eyes look up at me, words unspoken, eyes glistening with compassion. Eyes locked, I see you. And in you I see me.

 

Breathing heavy, sweat dripping down our faces, mouths sore from smiling, Yebo! Viva! Viva KYP! The children grab onto my name tag that reads “Kagsio” “peace”. A young girl repeats it slowly “kagsio” “kagsio”, and looks up with understanding eyes. We interlace our sticky hands and walk towards Ester’s home.

 

Ester, deep brown eyes, wrinkles of pain and happiness, teeth of no food and good food, hair wrapped in a blue cloth, and as her son Thando says “ a heart we could eat”. Laughter fills her kitchen as we embrace in our shared humanness. Promised so much and given so little, Ester welcomes us into her home of many years. Walls build on the earth of deep injustices and sorrow yet resilience and faith. Complex just as we are. Complex like the way I enter my friend’s community for a day, hanging on to every moment and leave wishing we could stay together.

 

Complex like the way we are told we are equals but don’t they know we are smarter than that? Our breaths dance in the dusty air speaking of a shared desperation for justice—true equality. Complex like the way we both love and hate our skin.

 

Two young boys pull me along the muddy paths of Kliptown. Looks of curiosity, excitement, and apprehension peep through fences and peer behind hanging laundry. The boys beam as the three of us plant cabbage for friends and families gardens. Fingers caked with dirt, a seed of hope.

 

The sun makes its way towards the horizon as we race back to KYP, a safe haven, Kliptown’s very own seed of hope. Soccer balls fly by painted faces, strokes of love and colors of unity. Human connections blossoming without words or materials, reminding us of the power we hold to touch others.

 

Thulani reminds us that there is no goodbye only see you later and this time I believe it. Tears fall down my dry burned cheeks as I slowly peel my fingers away from a tiny but mighty grasp. Empty and full, pained and overjoyed, intertwined in threads of peace and progress—fear, and wonder. I lock eyes with my little but mighty sister. We know there is work and now we know that all it takes is a ripple of hope.

 

~

 

“It is wrong to say we are more alike than we are different because we are the same” Smash, Ripples of Hope 2018

 

“We breathe the same air and if you were to cut our veins we would bleed the same blood” Thando, Ripples of Hope 2018

 

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