Her name is Nkosinomusa Luthuli and she welcomes me into her home, number 6021.
She opens the red door. My friend Katie and I enter in as the rain beats down on the tin roof above us. Nkosinomusa is a mother of four boys. She has a generous heart and she fills her days with laughter and hard work. She is a born leader – she runs a household and a nursery, she is a strong woman of God, she singlehandedly leads her family with integrity. She cooks and provides a bed for her brothers and sisters in need. Ikayha Lami Elakho (my home is your home) is written on her walls. Her English is broken but her kindness speaks so loudly. She speaks and sings in Zulu but thankfulness is her language.
Nkosi lives in Mpophomeni, meaning the place of the waterfall, located in the midlands of the Kwazulu-Natal province of South Africa. Mpophomeni is a township, an urban settlement that confines non-whites. To elaborate – until the end of Apartheid (the system of racial segregation of whites and blacks in South Africa, quite literally meaning ”the state of being apart” enforced by a government party until 1994, the year before I was born), townships were reserved for Africans, Indians and Coloureds only. Townships tend to be a place of unemployment, gangs and violence, poor education, illness (particularly HIV/AIDS and TB) and most prominently poverty. Unfortunately, Mpophomeni is no exception to these unfair characteristics. So 1994, the year before I was born, marks the end of Apartheid, this was not a long time ago and segregation remains in the townships and towns of South Africa. The ugly truth is that you do not have to look far to discover that there is imbalance and inequality. It’s not hard to see and it is not hard to find.
Now I know little about politics but what I do know is that in the Kingdom of God there are no outsiders or insiders. I know little about history but I know that in God’s house there are no barriers or walls of division, there is no ”state of being apart”.
There is no segregation, isolation, division or seclusion. God’s will for humanity is family.
I flew to South Africa to a HIV/AIDS and TB ministry named Ethembeni (meaning a place of hope, which it very much was) alongside 5 other girls from around the UK. I was blessed to wake up in Mpophomeni everyday for an eye-opening, soul-stirring, exciting, laughter-filled, heart-wrenching but hope-giving 30 days. Everyday I savoured the African sun and crisp air. The winter colours and cool evenings and colder mornings. Breathing in the freshness. Taking in the smiles of the children on the street as they play games outside their homes and shout ‘sawubona’ as we walk past. Absorbing the soulful and sweet African music. Absorbing the sounds of their unique language. I’m appreciating the family, the love. I’m enjoying every hearty meal made by Nkosi and the time we spend together laughing and playing cards around the table, every prayer before bed and time of grace before meals. I’m soaking it all up. Just being present. I treasured every slow step down the streets through the township and every journey to a different place. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be in Mpophomeni, I felt overwhelmed by the love of the people around me and the love and faithfulness of God for bringing me here. I couldn’t have been more blessed.
MY HOME IS YOUR HOME
Mpophomeni is a place of community and character, joyful living and family. It taught me about the rawness and richness of life in a way that I had never known before and this is something that I will never ever forget.