Ubuntu


 

Friday 23 September 2011: 5 years on … Advantage CBD

On Tuesday of this week I was planning to write another blog.

However, I have not been feeling well, I have experienced some severe headaches, my short-term memory has been failing me, the spasms on my left side have increased and my hands and left leg have been quite limp. I am unable to sit for longer than a few minutes at a time.

I have been quite stressed and I think it’s the stress that takes that life that I still have out of me. It’s a vicious circle – the more stress, the less movement, the more stress … and so it goes on and on. I become exhausted.

I have to learn how to handle the stress and to keep working on my mind … it’s not easy, but it can be done.

All I managed to write on Tuesday was the jotting down of a few points about my activities of the previous week. (Read the previous blog Skeleton in the Cupboard.)That’s how my blogs usually start – a few ideas in my head or some points in my diary. (It’s something that I never used to keep for my personal things but, with failing memory, it’s become an essential part of my day – my electronic Blackberry and my old-fashioned handwritten book diary. The challenge is to keep everything synchronised!)

My intention was to build on those points, write the blog and then destroy the points.  But the more I looked at the points, the more I realised that the framework of my blog was only the skeleton of my life of the past week.

Just a few bullet points, just a quarter of a page, a few meaningless words like hospice, haircut, Club 300, rugby, Graaff-Reinet, breakfast, baptism, birthday …

So many of us live our lives like just the few necessary bullet points; just the quarter of the page.

We don’t bother to fill in the meat around the skeleton and our life becomes meaningless. We just do the bare necessities! We just exist.

When Moses asked of God who He was, He replied “I am what I am”.

In African culture, we speak of UBUNTU: I am because of the people around me.

Ubuntu: “I am what I am because of who we all are.” (From a translation offered by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee.)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu offered a definition:

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.
 

Tutu further explained Ubuntu in 2008:

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.
 

Nelson Mandela explained Ubuntu as follows:

A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects.  
 

And it is the people around me who support me, who give meaning to my life, who make it worthwhile, who read my blogs, who listen to the radio programme, who write me notes of encouragement and who in turn allow me to give to them.

I shall always be grateful to all those friends and acquaintances who have been the tapestry of my life.

They are the people with whom I journey and share my existence and who are the meat of my life’s skeleton.

 So let me rewrite Skeleton in the Cupboard as UBUNTU:

On Wednesday evening the family attended Gino Fabbri’s dinner theatre show Toasted Nuts at the Old Grey Club. Gino is a local Port Elizabeth comedian and works with Gary Hemmings of Centrestage, the entertainment specialists in PE. Gary is an ex-pupil of mine and through him and AlgoaFM I have become acquainted with Gino. The show is a laugh-a-minute and the run has now been extended twice in PE. It’s wonderful what a good laugh can do for one’s well-being! I also enjoy being able to go out with the whole family – as the boys get older, it’s something that is becoming rarer theses days!

On Thursday mornings I have my weekly visit from the sisters of the St Francis Hospice. Their support is invaluable and something to which I look forward. I owe a great debt of thanks to Gill le Roux and Janice Malkinson, and to Isaac Reuben, father of my pharmacist David and brother of Solly, an ex-mayor of the City, who pay me weekly visits.

Nadine van Westenbrugge (who was a secretary at The Grey when I worked there, and the mother of Adrian who I taught at one stage) also pops in to help with admin on Thursdays. There are so many things that still need to be attended to, and she is a pillar of strength in this department.

Julian Fletcher is next in the diary. He provides me with a weekly deep massage of these muscles that disappear and atrophy because of the lack of use! It’s one of those eina lekker feelings (“sore nice” feelings) – I’m still not sure if it does me any bad or any good, but it appears to keep the muscles in reasonable trim. Who knows what they would have looked like by now had it not been for the exercises and massages.

Then its time for a haircut – Janine at Andre’s Hair design has kindly been attending to my hair and beard. She was elated today, because her son who is going to university next year has been given a personal bursary for his engineering studies by one of her clients! It all fall in line with my belief in what you give is what you receive.

Val and Craig Beetham, friends from The Grey, arrange to pick me up (in a Porsche, nogal!) to attend the wine-tasting evening of the Club 300 at Elizabeth Place – a local function venue. It’s always great to see other parents from the school and to socialise and hear what’s going on in the real world. My world could become quite boring if I allowed it to do so.

Ben Roth assisted with Sean’s rugby coaching last year at Grey and he manages Elizabeth Place. He also usually comes round to visit me on Thursday mornings: I provide the coffee and he brings the eats! (No wonder the” huggy bars” are starting to show more and more!) Anyway, he didn’t make the morning visit this week, but we got to have a good chat at the evening function.        

Fridays have become “lunch at Old Grey Club days.” Steak, egg and chips, all for R40 – sorry, that’s now R45 – have become the Friday special, and Sean and I, together with anyone else who wishes to join us, have been doing this lunch date for weeks now.

Between the two of us, we manage to round up a number of friends each week, and I like to think that we are supporting the Club in a very small way, too. This week, Sean has a number of his friends there, and I joined Annette Jones and Richard and Liz Finlay. Richard also has a birthday on the 18th September, and so we celebrate together.

After lunch, Pera and I leave for Graaff-Reinet. I offered to drive for a while and ended up driving all the way there (and back)! I haven’t done that for a long while, so it was quite exciting for me (although uncomfortable to sit for so long). I find it easier driving the automatic car on the open road rather than in town, but would not try doing it by myself anymore.

Sean had NSRI duty and Phil had school work so they remained at home.

Well, once in Graaff-Reinet, we didn’t touch sides. First, off to the Graaff-Reinet Club with Gordon and Rose. The hospitality in the Karoo is astonishing. Everyone introduces themselves to us, the visitors, and makes us feel so at home. This happens throughout our weekend visit!

 The other thing that astonishes me (and which I find very humbling) is just how many people listen to and comment on our weekly radio slot on AlgoaFM. I am so pleased that so many are now becoming aware of all these weird and wonderful neurological illnesses with which so many of us have to contend. That was my goal when Lance and I started talking now almost 18 months ago (we had our 75th chat this last Wednesday!)

Pera and I were asked to do the weekly draw and we ended up drawing our own number for the bottle of whiskey – not rigged, but rather embarrassing!

After the Club visit, we headed off to Gordon’s Restaurant for dinner. What a meal! What a host! What Company! What an evening … that finished off in the wee hours of the morning sitting around the kitchen table with a single malt!

Saturday morning was the big rugby game, SA vs Fiji and Ireland vs Australia. Well, if we were pleasantly surprised by the Bokke’s great performance, then I was elated by Ireland’s win over the Aussies! And when we are winning, then everything seems so much better.

So, at midday, in our green and gold shirts, we headed off down the road to the Botanics and the Karoolus Fees!

And we returned after midnight! The weather was great, the stalls were the stalls, the beers tasted good (no Guiness though!), the all-day music was entertaining (from Snotkop and Robbie Wessels, through Arno Jordaan and Glaskas to Elvis Blue and Prime Circle), the re-acquainting with old friends and the meeting of new friends – all for R50!

What a day and what an introduction to my 55th birthday (and my 5th with CBD) on Sunday which started with a traditional Wright birthday breakfast for me. Then it was time to leave the gem of the Karoo and the people who make up that gem.

We headed back to PE, all the richer for having experienced Ubuntu Karoo-style. And even richer we were when we attended Phil’s baptism that evening at Walmer Methodist.  It may have been Walmer, but I’m sure that wasn’t the case for the water in the outside pool where Phil was baptised!

And still this week’s dose Ubuntu wasn’t finished yet – Tuesday was Nadine’s birthday and Grant (Jet) Jennings, our neighbour, and ex-pupil.

 Why is it that so many people celebrate a birthday in September? Is it the result of Christmas Ubuntu? 

 

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