Johannesburg 11 July 2016
“We are boys, but nice boys.”
This quote by Nescio* is the perfect description for the club which boarded the plane this morning. For although we have all long passed the age of boys, it fits us down to the ground: boys.
We’re nice too.
It was a smooth departure; a great start to our trip to distant unknown places. There was the energy that befits the start of an adventure. Ideas and wild plans came and went like a ping-pong ball across the table. The sky’s the limit, the world is ours.
An ideal morning.
And, as I was told a few times, I had nothing to worry about. “We are prepared for everything.” And the boys meant it. To my surprise when checking in I heard that the youngest of us, W, the cameraman, has even brought a drone. “South Africa”, he said. “Certainly a country where you can shoot beautiful things with a drone”…
Certainly, I thought.
We are not just nice boys, we are a bunch of white boys too. None of the four of us carries a trace of a coloured ancestor. We are bright white, one hundred percent white. A bunch of white boys from behind the dykes; milky white like cream desserts without custard … All four a blank page.
South Africa is now known as the rainbow nation. All colours live here, all colours are welcome here, it’s their credo. It’s a great slogan to carry. A slogan that you hope would be taken up all over the world. A cry that witnessed a big heart and great forgiveness because the original inhabitants; the black population, often live in the most difficult conditions in this multi-cultural country.
We want to give African women a special place in our stories. They live in the most difficult circumstances but they are the ones, more than the men, who take the initiative to solve the problems. The Afrikaans version of Girl Power gives the best chance of a better future.
Next week we will be working a lot with Rosina and Sharon. They hold sway in the Pomona container clinic, here in Johannesburg. I wonder how they do it, with all the truck drivers. Tough men, visiting an HIV clinic, where two women are leading the way…
How far we get, we’ll see. Because nice or not, we are still a bunch of white guests who armed with cameras and writing pads want to report about sensitive issues. In a rainbow country where the original inhabitants had a black skin.
Photo’s Erik Smits
*pen name of Dutch writer Jan Hendrik Frederik Grönloh