'When you do something, that thing will come back to you'
This Cape Town woman's story appears in
The Poor Philanthropist: How and Why the Poor Help Each Other,
by Susan Wilkinson-Maposa, Alan Fowler, Ceri Oliver-Evans and Chao F.N. Mulenga. The pamphlet presents the Building Community Philanthropy Project's research on indigenous local philanthropy and is available at www.gsb.uct.ac.za (look under Centres of Expertise).The project is part of the University of Cape Town.
What happens when there is a party in my street? Maybe there is an initiation ceremony for a young person. I try by all means to go there with something, maybe a case of cool drink or anything I can give. I know when it is my turn to have a ceremony, that thing will come back to me, even if it is vegetables, food, perishable things. Even a blanket, you go there carrying that thing. So when you do something, that thing will come back to you.
There are many things that you can give, even clothes, you give new clothes to this person who is being initiated. You say to yourself, okay, I am giving him a shirt or shoes, whatever I have. That is one way we help each other. We make each other happy so that the mother doesn't feel alone. They say that they are bringing back the gifts that you gave to other people.
On my street, there is a child who lives alone. When his parents died, his sister left. We heard that he went for the initiation, so the street paid for him to have his initiation ceremony. The teachers at his school bought clothes. The parents in the community paid some money. In ceremonies and in things like gifts, food and clothes, it is for the community. A ceremony is for the community.
Everyone went out of their houses with something to give, and the guys said that they would pay for the animal to be slaughtered because the child does not have anyone. And the girls said they
would organize everything for his bedroom.
It was such a nice thing where we
all worked together. Nobody could say
that he didn't have parents. People were singing about what his mom would have said if she saw him like this. Even the teachers helped.
It was nice to see the way everything was done. It is good to see that no child is an orphan when people are there. That is why they say that each woman gives birth for another woman. If his mother is not there, who else will help him?
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