I visited Nyanga today, for the first time in months. It was different this time. I don’t know why. It wasn’t that I was scared. No, I’m not scared. Tume was with me and two others and I know that people look at me because its strange seeing someone like me there. An Indian girl on the streets of a Cape Flats taxi rank. It’s a sight! So I’m not scared when they look. But it was different. It was like the first time I was there, when I was nervous, shy, arms crossed and sticking close to the others. Not my confident, friendly, open self. I guess its a little like getting to know Nyanga all over again.

Some people remembered me though. I could see it in their smiles, their greetings. I really need to learn more isiXhosa. My heavily accented “Molweni” is replied to with a laugh. I can just imagine them thinking “Oh, poor girl trying to speak isiXhosa. Cute!”. Why did I have to learn isiZulu???
Tumelo is a great translator though, and I’ve contacted Abalimi and Shawco, the two NGO’s at the site who have offered to help me find a reliable translator. Someone from the community will be better I think. And I’m sure an extra R50 in their pocket won’t hurt them either. t might just be our ticket to gain their trust. One of the traders mentioned that it was very important that we had a translator, so that they can communicate to us exactly what they like/ want. I was so glad for that, because all this while, I had been worried about how we were going to communicate what we had to say…It was great to realize that we had missed something so important, and have a chance to adjust our mindsets to serve the people we’re doing all of this for. At the end of the day, they are the only one’s that matter in all of this.
We bounced the idea of the stoves off them. And the response was great! The people are really willing to try something new I think. Anything to help their business. My plan is to work out an business strategy for each individual trader, working out a payment scheme to suit their own business needs. Combining this with a little bit of health and basic business management education would make a much bigger impact than just handing over stoves to them. I’m really excited about the project.
There was one guy. Just an old “Mkhulu” on his way back home from work, wearing his blue contractors pants. He stopped and greeted us, shook all our hands with the regular “touch my blood” line that people of this country use. (I never knew that before today.) Then he thanked us. He thanked us for being there, for being in that place, on that street, unafraid, walking around. He thanked us for leaving our pretty little lives behind for a while and for taking the time to see. To see it. To see the people of this country.
I looked at the mountain. I thought “I live at the bottom of that mountain”. From where we were, it didn’t really seem all that far away.