Tag Archive: hope for South Africa

One of the greatest problems in South Africa when you are privileged is you sometimes see poverty as an annoyance. You are sitting down in a restaurant on a Friday night and all of a sudden a group of kids come out doing an local African dance then touting you and tourists for money.  And out of sheer guilt (or maybe just a desire to have the group move to the next restaurant) you toss a few coins their way.

Now what if you just took a moment to see it a bit differently.  That’s exactly what a young guy born to South African parents but having grown up in Americaland did.

Let me introduce you to Jason Woolf:  As a young kid, he came to South Africa on holiday and like most tourists, got to see a couple of buskers.  It planted a seed.

Later, as a teenager about to leave high school on another trip, he asked some deeper questions: what happens to this money made by these kids? Does it reach them, or do some adult handlers take most of the cash?  Is there a possibility to create “fair trade” busking, a way of ensuring the money given by tourists and locals goes into ensuring the young performers get the cash?  And if there is, can we use this to revitalise South African culture?

So cue Jason Woolf today: In his twenties, he took some time out of the USA, moved to South Africa, reclaimed his citizenship, rented a place in Khayelitsha and formed Umbiyozo and started an NGO trying to answer some of those questions.

But let me not talk any more about Jason, let me introduce you to him through this TedX video.  It’s worth your 15 minutes of time to watch.

[To learn and see more on Umbiyozo, click over here]

[For other South African stories of people giving us hope, click here]


So this is a little awkward… but i was never one to shy away from awkward…

Today while i was out in town i got an email which i checked on my phone and it was from my friend and Improv guru, Megan Furniss, and simply subjected, ‘a little thing i wrote’, and so i read it and it made me a little emotional sitting outside in Long street in the middle of Cape Town at a coffee shop called Lolas…

Shortly after, another short email came through which said this:

‘I hope you post it as one of the ‘people in SA who make me hopeful’ series. It is meant for public.’

And so [anyone knowing Megan Furniss will know the last line disclaimer to be completely 100% true] this is this week’s story of hope in South Africa:

‘There is this guy I know, Brett Fish Anderson, and he is one of these people that make my feelings complicated, in a good way. I disagree with him on the most fundamental of issues, because I am a proud and outspoken atheist and he is a loud(ish) Christian. I am diametrically opposed to religion of any shape or form and would be happy to wake up to a world without it, in the same way that Brett would love to have a raisin free world.

And yet, for the most part, or in fact, for all the other parts, I think that Brett and I share the world and our view of it, and the people in it. And Brett is one person who gives me hope in South Africa.

Here are a few reasons why.

Brett went to America and learned stuff. When he came back he kept asking the right, and important questions. And mostly they tackle the issue of race, and white privilege head-on. This is vital. Brett is clear about understanding, or at least trying to understand, poverty. This is vital. Brett doesn’t take being white personally, even though he is. There are very few people that I know of that can get over themselves enough to be honest, outspoken and truthful about white privilege. He picks at the scab, and has to be pretty strong about what comes out. Often it is the stinky, white pus. He is brave, and clear, and diligent and consistent here, and he gives me hope, and direction in this regard. I am a hothead and I get hysterical. Sometimes I need Brett’s more gentle and ironic voice (even though I pretty much hate every pun and silly spelling departure).

Brett is an improviser, and we improvise together. This means we share the improv (and life) philosophy of YES. This makes us those people. We see possibility. We see a story unfolding. We see characters come alive because of the positive. This is vital in South Africa.

Brett can rhyme. This is vital, because I love rhyming.

Brett has written a book called ‘i, church’. I might not read it because I have no interest in the subject matter. But I love Brett and his mind, and his way in the world, and in my South Africa.

Disclaimer: He did not pay, in cash or anything else, for these words.’

[And speaking of words, Megan is an excellent writer and improviser and her first novel, ‘Green Margie and the Starlight’ is now up on Amazon and you should totally buy it and read it and share it around cos it is that good – and nope, she definitely didn’t expect me to do that!]

[For another story of someone who gives hope, this time Jason Woolf and a way of revitalising SA culture, click here]

[For other South African stories of people giving us hope, click here]

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