Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Lesson according to Jon

Dear Easter Bunny,
         Where were you when you were needed this Easter?
       My brother Anthony and I wanted your help to hand out Easter Eggs to the poor in Masiphumelele (see Cape Town's Tourist Dump), a Black township not far from my home in Cape Town.
Entrance sign speaks volumes
The name means We will succeed in Xhosa. But sadly there’s not much sign of that in this sprawling collection of run down houses and tin shacks where 38 000 people survive some how.
As you were nowhere to be found, the two of us had to do it ourselves.
Typical street
Were you testing us? In South Africa many Whites have never been into a Black township for fear of not coming out again. They associate them with thieves, rapists and murderers who are waiting to get their own back on Whites for what they did to them under the all White apartheid government that was replaced by a Black one 18 years ago.
We thought that one of your Black, floppy eared relatives would blend in far better than two six foot, something Whities.
Anyway as it turned out it was fun for us two fossils – to begin with anyway. 
It didn’t take us long to learn that humans behave very differently in a group compared to when they are on their own. And the principle remains the same whether they are adults or little nippers just starting out in life.
We had about 100 eggs to distribute and the aim was to make them go as far as possible – in other words one each, for small children only.
Driving through the narrow streets we stopped here and there when we saw little ones by themselves or with a grown up relative. That’s when we got a polite Thank you, as we handed out the gifts through the window of my car.
But as soon as a crowd gathered it was every boy and girl for himself with the biggest ones pushing to the front and returning shortly afterwards to try and grab another egg. If there were any Thank yous us Fairy Godfathers would not have been able to hear them above the racket.
Our first experience of this mob behaviour was when we stopped outside a playground and the children initially lined up in an orderly fashion. But that didn’t last long with arms coming from all directions like a giant octopus doing its best to thwart our one per child policy. On this occasion we had the steel boundary fence between us and the kids to help maintain a vestige of order.
A few streets away another mass of pleading, waving hands enveloped our car. Several children climbed half way into the open window on my brother’s side and clung to the door as I started slowly driving away. They gradually dropped off as we went a little further.
Having learnt our lesson we gave the rest of the Happy Eggs away to individuals whose friends had to be disappointed if there was any sign of a group developing.
Surprise, surprise we left that Black township richer for the experience with our lives intact; still in our own car and with our wallets and cell phones still on us.
Our relief was short lived however. I’m writing this to you from Cape Town’s, Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison. It’s no picnic I can tell you. But if we live through it we’ll be able to say we were in the jail where Nelson Mandela was once incarcerated.
You see in this wicked world two old codgers can’t be seen in a poor area handing out sweets to little children without being paedophiles. That’s a given.
So Easter Bunny it looks as though you’ll have to do the job yourself next year.
Miserably yours,
P.S. I hope this gets passed the prison censors.

Buy my book 'Where have all the children gone'on Amazon Kindle  It's a thriller with an underlying love story that defied generations of Afrikaner/ English prejudice.

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