An American Facebook friend asked me this question… tell me about South Africa…. I took a few days to think about it.

I could tell him about the political situation, the dark history, the unemployment, the ‘Struggle’ and the ‘New Struggle’ after. I could tell him about the crime. About my friend being murdered for a fucking cell phone, my friends being hijacked, my one friend being raped after a long work day just outside her home when she almost got home. I can tell him about friends that phoned me because their sister, brother, son, daughter were murdered just because they owned or worked on a farm….

But I can also tell him about how sometimes you meet stranger, a selfless stranger that wants nothing from you except a smile, I can tell him about the beautiful mountains of Mpumalanga, the corn fields that stretches to forever in Western Transvaal, the ancient stone circles that is over 70,000 years old in Kaapsehoop and Waterval Boven, the beautiful Vaal River, Pretoria in Spring, The magic of Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, the call of the Hadeda and the beautiful sounds of my Mother Language Afrikaans with poetic words like skemer, duister, verdwaal, beeldskoon, asemrowend, belewenis, venster, trapsuutjies, Tarentaal, summier and lekker.

I can tell him that I will never leave this country because it is my home, that even the darkest place here, or the most negative experiences here are not as powerful as the beauty and compassion of a multitude of my people, be they black, white or brown. That we have a country of beauty, where in some places green forests and fields seem like they stretch forever.

Tell you about South Africa? I can’t. It is too huge to tell you about. Come feel its grace, its beauty, its darkness, its shame and its glory.

(c) 2016 Allen Simpson

all photos copyrighted to Allen Simpson