Rarely in our lives do we get the chance to meet a person whose wisdom, grace and intelligence are so profound that our thought patterns are literally changed forever. This lovely, proud Zulu woman – Christian mother of six, speaker of six languages, manager of a community-owned Zulu lodge - was just such a person for me.
After weeks of engaging in political conversations with white South Africans and having little more than the most surface encounters with blacks, I finally have a bit of a grasp on what it’s like to be black and female in post-apartheid South Africa - and how women here can look to the future with hope and optimism despite the massive social and economic problems this country faces.
Nomusa and I chatted for hours about everything from Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton to AIDS, apartheid, crime, poverty, children, travel and what it’s like to be a successful female in a completely male-dominated African culture.
I asked her what she thought of those ageing Afrikaaners who clearly wish apartheid was still alive and well, and in particular about a 60-ish white woman who’d recently said to me: “Why would I watch South African soccer? There are no white players. The rugby is for us; the blacks can have their soccer.”
Nomusa’s wise reply? “I don’t have resentment. We are moving forward. The white people who want to move forward with us can come along. Those who don’t, well that’s their problem.”
Intelligent words, indeed, and I’m grateful for the hours we spent talking around the fire under a starry KwaZulu Natal sky. Hers is a perspective I will cherish and whose proud history I respect. (Annie and Molly also fell for her big time.)