Tis a blissful autumn day in our capital. People are going about their early morning business without too much care on their faces. Two little girls were paying for their sausage-rolls at my egg-vendor. Smaller than my nieces Andile and Sazza, but still they stood their ground in front of the big counter, handing over the 2x R10 notes plus 2x R5 coins and requesting: “2 sausage-rolls please!” The friendly aunty on the other side took the money and started teaching them some afrikaans: “Twee wors rolletjies asseblief!” The little ones were not daunted at all. Confidently they repeated that fluently, clearly and so well-mannered even as the circle of big adults like me was growing around them. However, nobody was in a hurry. All were patiently awaiting these halflings to finish their business. More so, the smiles and encouraging comments continued to spread all around. I was imagining my little nieces all the time and thought, what a blessing it is for children to growing up in this free environment, going for a morning outing with their parents and obviously just so hungry for a piping hot boerewors, cushioned in golden onions and the bun struggling to soak up all that dripping goodness and blessing. The early morning was getting off to a good start. My tired heart was buoyed and I was more than ready for the next stall and the coming weekend.
At Tony’s a smart lady was haggling over the price. She felt the Portuguese was cheating her out of some hard-earned money. So, they went through the list of groceries once again, proving that Tony had been right all along. There were no excuses given, after all, it was her customer’s right to demand fair treatment and that was all she was asking. I was grateful that Tony had been right all along, but I was also happy to see this yuppie dressed in the sporty jacket of her political party standing up for her good right as shopper and client. It was all in the cool atmosphere of free and fair trading early Saturday calm. The husband was watching as attentively as I was. No hard word, no hard feelings either. Rather grown-ups going about their business, practicing communication across the piled-up groceries and other boundaries. It went well and again I was a happy customer. Finishing off my weekly shopping spree.
Tony still told me, that there’s a neighbor of mine, who’s defaulted on his municipality payments and is bound to lose his house in the next few days. As always, he was mostly interested in the selling price and he was planning to join the auction, when that property would be sold off to the highest bidder. The evaluation gave 2,2 million as a guideline, but Tony expected it to go for a million less. However, the arrears of some 150k needed to be added to that still. It’s a sign of the times. People not being able to pay their bills, losing their jobs and having to move out of their homes. Hardship even on a beautiful weekend like ours. I presume that the prospering taxi-owner up my street will take up this vacated property. His stand is now entirely under roof as he finds shelter for his ever-growing fleet of slick cars and drivers. I can imagine, that he’ll be glad to get this adjacent property under his name and roof too.
Driving home I reflected on these varying stories and I drove up my street to have a look at the home for sale. It was as Tony had indicated. As I was turning back again, a couple in their best years – i.e. about my age! – was walking briskly in their running shoes, colouful T-shirts and track-suit longs doing stretches and swinging their arms enthusiastically. We greeted friendly and exchanged some cordial words before they continued their morning stroll. They obviously were having a good time too, walking in their part of town, at peace with the world and in this society.
See all of these people – except the one losing his house – are black Africans, whom I met this morning. And for them too it is obviously a happy Saturday as they too go about their weekend at peace. We are part of this one South African community, trying to go about our business and making things work out – for ourselves and together too. It’s not always easy, but there are beautiful days too. Life is a great gift and the world is still a wonderful and sometimes even stunning place. So, with the help of God, we look forward to a bright future, because he’s in this with us and we thank God from whom all blessings like peace, good government, neighbours and business, friends and family, jobs and calling, flow. To him be glory every day anew: Hallelujah +