Thursday, August 04, 2011

Beautiful Day

Somewhere close to eleven one of the researchers looked up and asked that we take a rest break.  It took me by surprise but I immediately felt guilty because we had been going at it since half eight in the morning.

I walked out of the room and was joined by a brother who has done serious research on the life of Robert Sobukwe and made my way down a flight of stairs into a huge room where the Steve Bantu Biko exhibition was in its fourth day.

It was an amazing feeling of arrival in a sense.  The brother pointed out this and that and my head literally spun in glorious recognition that sometimes stuff comes together and life will reach out and touch your heart just right.

We walked through the excellent exhibition stopping occasionally to reflect and share thoughts.  The exhibition is part of the Biko Foundation's work and it pays respect and homage to Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, Aime Cesaire, Stokely Carmichael and of course, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe.

As we got to the end of the exhibition the brother excused himself to take care of some business and I walked slowly with a head and heart full of love and respect for struggle icons who gave their lives for our right to live in dignity and freedom.

As I turned to walk out of the exhibition hall there was a huge color picture of my late father, Achmat Laher (as he was known to PAC folk).  Next to his picture was one of my mother, Fatima Laher.

I stood still for a minute just looking at their faces with pride while fighting back my emotions.

Both pictures were taken about a decade ago but they looked very present and the quotes attributed to them reminded me of their struggle to fight tooth and nail for freedom and justice.

I walked away thinking it was a grand day.  Just more than a decade ago I wrote to the director of the museum complaining about the Euro-centric nature of his institution.

He did not answer then but a few months ago he reminded me about my email and confessed he did not know how to answer my scathing attack.

He did not have to.  In a space of just a few years he has worked hard alongside other committed souls to turn the museum around.

And yesterday he welcomed my presence saying that he had looked forward to having me around.

As I made my way home from my first day I could not help thinking that today was one of the best in recent years.  I am elated to be working alongside thinking people who know my history better than me.

This blog started out in India and Malaysia to trace my ancestry and to put identity details into my personal history.  But today I recognized again that I did not have to travel too far to know my origins and to connect with the identity details that define my being.

Beautiful day.  I feel truly blessed.



desert demons said...

I couldn't help smiling @ this post - although I must say it is very 'The Alchemist' - the idea that what we are searching for is often right where we left to begin our search :)
Sounds like a beautiful feeling and a beautiful day !

Ridwan said...

Hey DD!

Thanks so much my sista. It means a lot coming from you.

I think there is a lot to be said for going far to find reasons and ideas because it teaches us the value of living close - or seeing what is right in front of us.

In the three plus decades that I have been gone from Kimberley it has not gone from me.

I just needed to return to know.

Be good DD.

Peace sista and thank you,

pserean said...

This was a lovely post. It even has its own soundtrack (U2, sorry)

My favourite part was when you saw your parents acknowledged.
I'm so glad for you- and hopefully, tomorrow, you'll wake up going to 'work' with...excitement? ;)
Ramadhan Mubarak.

Ridwan said...


Thanks P. for commenting.

I am excited about 'work' but the waking up part will always be hard in any context.

I trust you are well.

Ramadan Mubarak to you and your family.