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In search of ubuntu to answer my daughter

By unknown | Apr 05, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

There's a Setswana idiom that goes something like this: "Ntime o mphele ngwana."

There's a Setswana idiom that goes something like this: "Ntime o mphele ngwana."

Crudely translated, it means "tou can deny me food, but please feed my child".

I had a lump in my throat recently when I learnt that this age-old, ubuntu-botho wisdom had been violated in the crudest possible way involving my daughter.

"Why Papa? Why?" she keeps asking me.

My daughter, Amogelang, suffers from Down Syndrome. She's a 16-year-old trapped in the body of a seven-year-old.

The other day, answering an invitation, her mom drove her to a fund raising fun-run in Azaadville, near Krugersdorp, to benefit children suffering the same condition as my daughter.

Mother and daughter had planned their outing with meticulous care. They were excited, talked about the 40-minute trip for days on end and packed their picnic basket.

There were dozens of fellow fun walkers at the starting point. Amo and her mom parked the car and joined the rest.

But halfway through the walk, my daughter needed to go to the toilet. As the walk wound it's way through the suburb, my wife went knocking at the first door.

No, her daughter could not use their toilet. No reason given.

They went to the nearby spaza shop and again, they, a harmless professional lady and her young girl where denied the most basic of human needs - a toilet.

Off they went to a nearby surgery. Someone whose job it is to save lives would not deny a young girl the use of a lavatory, they reckoned.

No dice, this was a surgery and not a public toilet.

"Why Mama? Why?" my daughter started asking. Her mother had no answer.

They made one more stop at another suburban home. They were told the toilet was not in working order.

At this stage Amo was nearly bursting, if you get what I mean.

Then, from across the street, they saw a lady cleaning the balustrades of a huge house.

They came knocking and explained their plight.

"Shhh!" the domestic worker said. "Come this way and be quiet, otherwise I'll loose my job."

She took them to her maid's quarters at the rear of the house.

When my daughter asks me again, "Why daddy, why?" How should I answer?

Someone please tell me.


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