Monday, May 30, 2011

The story of a Lion, a boy and his tears.

One of our last days left in africa was spent in Franschhoek, a town of craft, art, food and despair. We sat at a cafe having a cool drink and lunch. My eyes drifted to across the road where the curio stands were lined in their designated row. I watched as the men at each stand quietly scanned the occasional tourist walking past and then moved forward to offer their art and goods.

Mana was restless and we all seemed a little unreasonable and testy this particular day, as we knew our time here was almost over. So I said to Jonah you have a little money left let's go and choose a curio. Mana hopped in her stroller and we left Wayne and Luca to enjoy some last moments together of what time we had left in Africa.

We crossed the street to walk along the stalls, by the second one we were ready to take a closer look, we had a chat with the man about his stone carvings and established he was from zimbabwe like so many seem to be... Jonah was eyeing a lovely carved lion as we had been to a lion sanctuary the day before where the lions had roared into our soul with such a depth that had made our legs turn to jelly.... Anyway he decided on the lion and the man keenly and gently folded it in bubble wrap and brown crinkly paper.

We decided to walk to the end of the stalls for more of a look and me repeating as I went "just looking thanks" to each of the stall holders as they approached us with their slightly pleading eyes. And me as the adult averting my eyes from practice, knowing how persistent some sellers can be, but these guys were o.k. and backed away a little dejected to give us space....

As we turned to walk back Jonah was a few steps ahead and I noticed one of the stall holders looking at him with a slight frown and then he said to Jonah  " Its alright my boy, no need to cry, its all good".......  I thought maybe he just looked weary but then as I quickened my pace to reach him and he angled his head down even further as I tried to peer at his face under his cap........I knew he was crying...........and I knew why those tears slid down his little cheeks as he tried to wipe them away...but I still asked " what's the matter Jonah?".... He said in the quietest voice  "We can't buy from them all can we mum" and what he really meant was... we cant help them all...can we heart fell to the ground at his utter sadness.

I put my arm around him and we sat down on the curb and as the tears welled in my own eyes  I said.." Its ok"...though I knew it was far from ok.... " they are fine, lots of people buy from them ... see look there's another man buying something over there and look at the kids playing behind the stalls ...their happy Jonah" and they were for now, a father sat with a little toddler and played a game with a plastic bottle ......... But I knew Jonah could see through all that,  he saw to their own despair, their displacement, desperation and despondency.

He had seen lots of things on this trip.........miles and miles of shanti houses, women eating out of garbage bins, people begging for help on the streets, lost people, hurt people, hungry people, angry people and barely alive people....oh yeah he had seen lots..

I hope they knew what the tears were for as they watched us talk and us looking back at them, and me trying to explain to a 10 year old the poverty of this world...the madness of this world.

I hope they knew those tears were for them......


  1. I'm bawling my eyes out here, and i've already heard that story. I think I'm crying because I have seen this, and I didn't cry then. We should cry, we should want it to be better for others, it should break our hearts every time we see poverty and sadness and desperation. But we avert our eyes, and it takes a beautiful boy with a sensitive heart to remind me of this. To remind me how appreciative we should be EVERY SINGLE MOMENT and to be less selfish. Thankyou Jonah, Thankyou Rex.
    Love you xx

  2. ah - Franshoek is beautiful and then the contrast as you drive in you see the squatters and the poverty. I always get mad when on friday i put out my rubbish bags for collection, i get mad because the people make a mess when they search through the garbage and i get mad because they have to search through the garbage - thats what it means to live on this wonderful and sometime awful continent.

  3. Oh geez. Thanks for sharing that Rex.
    JL x

  4. Hey cass didnt mean to make you cry... but it was one of those moments in life that you never want to you too...your dad got so emotional reading your response and for his boy and his zimbo fellow country people.

    Hey clare, I love, love Africa and I cant imagine how it must tear tour heart at times, but you must be brave to be apart of it and face it everyday and are able to do constructive things to help, (read your last post) just great!

    Hi Jen...hope you are well...miss ya blog!

  5. Another one with tears in her eyes. I felt the same when we were there and will struggle to explain to my girls why things are the way they are when we're next there. I like to think that our kids will take up where ever we leave off and do all they can to change things for the better of everyone. No pressure of course :)

  6. You write beautifully Rex I felt like I was there in the moment with you. Very heartbreaking and so deep for such a young soul. What a beautiful boy you are raising.

  7. I like the next time bit Kylie......we need to plan this!

    Yeah he is rather sweet, except when it comes to teasing his Sister! You know what, I was overwhelmed with Jonahs response and just as overwhelmed with the compassion the man had for our son,... that he noticed,... that he spoke up and that he cared enough to. To me this is a beautiful thing also.