Today the most amazing thing is happening. The President of the USA, Barack Obama, is visiting one of my favourite places on earth; Masiphumelele. It is a township on the peninsula south of Cape Town where for many decades blacks were not allowed to live. Eventually they were and were given a variety of sites to choose from. They chose Site 5 less than a mile from one of the world's most spectacular beaches at Noordhoek, which nestles in the shadow of Chapman's Peak. I simply loved being on this township and had the privilege of building a few houses along with my students with Habitat For Humanity. I hope Alfred, whose house we built is well. And Shnaz a little girl whose photo was on the cover of my book Eyes Open. Maybe our favourite builders from Masi, Thulani and Lucas, might shake hands with the President! Wow! The very thought...
Without A Signpost, from Sad... and Beautiful Place, my book with photographer Gordon Ashbridge was something that I wanted to write since the first time I drove into Masi in 2002. Here is a little town with 25,000 people who have their clinics, libraries, churches, schools and shops and not one road sign pointing to it. They are unremembered. This was a functional poem where trying to fit Gordon's photos perhaps compromised the poetry but it sums up my experience on Masi. Site 5 - Have a great day!!!!
TOWN WITHOUT A SIGNPOST (Masiphumelele)
Coldplay's on the radio
Loud enough to please the neighbours
Dogs scratching everywhere I look
More scavengers than retrievers
There's a shop selling Coca Cola
And cigarettes one by one
Not much talk of profit share
Just a few Rand when day is done.
They're hanging out the washing
I've never seen it blowing any whiter
Children screaming around my feet
No smile has ever shone brighter
They gather round makeshift fires
To keep warm in the winter chill
They come together to meet their needs
And I wonder if I ever will
They're painting on the stop sings
And white lines in the middle of the street
They'll dance and sing their way to Church
Where their hopes and sorrows meet
There's a ribbon on the Communion table
Red, like Jesus symbol of wine
Everyone gets the exact same share
In the potency of this Kingdom sign.
It's a town without a signpost
A town where no one needs to be
And I thought I'd take Jesus there
Instead he was there to greet me
He said, "Son I'm going to show you need
And then what you really need the most
There's riches that your soul needs to buy
In this town without a signpost.