|9 Jan 2003 @ 03:22, by ashanti|
I have a friend named Doris (not her real name) Tshabalala. She’s in her mid-fifties, and she is an Inspiration to women everywhere. (One of the many, many magnificent African women who grace our world). Her story is incredible. She started out as an illiterate person, working as a domestic servant for a white family. She had three children to support, and a life of drudgery – on her hands and knees, cleaning up others people’s floors and messes, and looking after a strange family’s children.
One day, in her late thirties, she decided this was not the life she wanted for herself, or her children. So, she signed up with a group who were teaching adult literacy in the evenings. She would have a full day’s work, hard physical labour, but willed herself to have the energy to go to the evening classes as well. She persisted for five years, and eventually completed her matric (the South African end levels of school).
Doris then managed to find herself a clerical job, where she was up off the floors, and earned a better salary. But she was still not satisfied. She then started studying for a degree in accounting, after hours, and after another five years, she became a qualified accountant. She was 47 when she reached this goal. She bought her own home, car, and could educate her children. She is a pillar of her community, pouring back everything to them, sponsoring literacy classes, and advising children on career paths.
This story is not about the reaching of material goals – it is about so much more. Doris told me she had grown up in a society that put her down, condemned her to a life of drudgery and hardship. The apartheid society told her that because she was black, and a woman, she was worth nothing much, other than to be a servant. The apartheid regime told her she had no Light, no talents, no skills. And Doris, through the formidable application of Will, broke through this psychological oppression, patiently, steadily, over a period of ten years, till she unveiled her magnificence, and her brilliant Light shone over her whole community.
One of my favorite activists and political philosophers is Steven Biko. In his book, “I write what I like”, he espoused his philosophy of Black consciousness, and articulated one of the most powerful weapons against the apartheid regime ever developed. It was a simple sentence. But it was a sentence that when understood, and when applied, as beautiful Doris did, blasted away the chains of oppression without a stroke of violence. The sentence said:
“The most potent weapon of the oppressor is the MIND of the oppressed.”
Apartheid could only succeed as long as the black people bought into the racist bull that they were inferior. Once they realized they were beautiful, special, talented, magnificent people, it was only a matter of time before apartheid fell.
This is a world where generations upon generations of tyrants put people down, based on race, gender, religion, or even plain personal dislike. The Nazis, the Stalinists, Mao-Tse-Tung, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem witch-hunts, apartheid – the list is long. But the human spirit always triumphs in the end.
Why? Because EACH and EVERY one of us has a special magnificence, a special contribution to make to the Universe, special gifts that only we can give, and brilliant, magnificent Lights inside us, that when unveiled, cast the heavy, dense energy of oppression into insignificance.
You wanna save the world? LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE! Be the best you can be, know that you are unique, precious, beautiful, special, loved beyond measure, and that you have a gift to give, which only you can give.
With Love from Africa,