On 23rd March 2018, I was one of the performers at a Gallery in Copenhagen, I decided to read an anecdote I wrote last year. I must say I was very nervous to read it because firstly, the content and delivery method I used was not typically art related and the audience was typically art vested. Secondly, it was my first time reading to a live audience, am a public speaker so reading to an audience was different. Since the message is one I strongly feel about, I said to myself, if my message will be received well then I can share it on my blog too. Well since you are reading this, I guess you can tell how it went.
In the 26years that I have lived, I have seen generosity through a woman, Oprah´s generosity is beyond belief and if I ever met her, I have no idea how I would react but, I won´t talk about Oprah in this post, I will instead focus on another woman who doesn´t have it all yet gives without hesitation or question. This woman is my mother. My mother is the type of woman who will tell you, “Gertrude I am abit worried because I am running out of money” and in the same breath say your aunty, uncle, cousin, neighbour or relative needs help with school fees so take this money (her last money) and go and send it to them.
In my head it´s unbelieable, why would someone take her last money and give it away? Other times she may be planning to go and relax somewhere then someone shows up and they need someone to talk to or be driven out of town and she will jump on it without hesitation.
Oneday I was fed up of her generosity and kindness to people who sometimes do not even show gratitude the second they receive. So I asked her, “mum, why do you punish yourself with helping these people who do not even care about you? Besides you do not have much yourself.” she said to me my dear in one´s lifetime, we will never have so much that we can say I do not need more, people always want more no matter how much they have. I give not because I have much but because I know what it feels like to have nothing.
I can not say I fully understand how it feels to have nothing but somehow I find myself so humbled everytime I think of these words because honestly to me that´s the definition of being selfless, it´s very few times that I have put myself in the shoes of people that have nothing but when I think that at one point my own mother had nothing and she waiting for someone to believe in her, to give her, I find myself giving. It does not matter if that was my last coin, or 5 mins of my time that I could have used to do something productive but instead, I give that time to someone else if they really need some attention.
Now, my mother may be unique but it is not uncommon in African culture to behave like that. And it is because of this deeply rooted sense of community that we have that makes me so proud of being African, South Africans call it Ubuntu. We do not know the meaning of loneliness or being alone as is the case in most western societies because we always have each other it doesn´t matter that we are blood-related or not, all that matters to us is that you are a human and I am human too, so let us do life together.
When I see commercials of poor starving African children in the western world, my heart bleeds because though true to an extent, it is truly unfair to only focus on showing those children as only that. African Children are overall very curious, loving and happiest children I have ever encountered. So why is that in soliciting help for those children, no happy images of them are shown? It´s not like if you showed how happy they really are in their poor state, it would affect the donations received. And if that were the case, then that is exactly the kind of help that Africans do not need. We are not interested in pity parties, treat us as partners instead.
Anyway, back to the subject of giving selflessly. I am posing a challenge to you all, during the coming week for just a day, an hour, or even a minute GIVE not because you have much but because you would appreciate being given if you had nothing. Now giving is not only money or tangible items, it could be time, effort, love anything! The world we all live in has so much that we can all afford to give something.
Just sharing my thoughts, I care about you!