Saturday, September 19, 2009

An Unforgotten Act Of Kindness

In 1970, long-haired, with backpack and guitar, I was hitch hiking through South Africa.

At one time I got stuck in a very conservative farming community where the occupants of the few cars that passed would show rude signs and hurl insults at me; ugly kids would pull faces and stick out their tongues from the rear windows.

I had been waiting for hours in the blazing sun when a farmer stopped and said I could ride on the back of his pickup truck. Relieved, I clambered aboard and after about half an hour he suddenly stopped and indicated that I should alight because he was turning off to his farm.

So there I was, in the middle of nowhere, flatness extending from horizon to horizon; no water or food, sun beating down relentlessly and not a shady tree in sight.

I decided that the only way to save myself was to start walking and after an hour or so, I came upon a corrugated iron shack. Feeling desperate, I approached the hovel and I could see that the occupants were living in abject poverty; they had nothing but the basics.

I greeted and asked them for some water. I was surprised when, after a few minutes, a ragged woman emerged from the shack and gave me not only a bottle of milk to drink, but also a bowl of maize porridge.

That was probably one of the most satisfying meals I've had in my life.

Before leaving, I offered them the few coins I had in my pocket but they refused to take them.

I will never forget this act of kindness from people who had virtually nothing, but who were so willing to share what little they had with a stranger.



  1. What a lovely story - and what kind people they were. (Never mind the farmer, who no doubt had more than these poor people would ever have -just dropping you off at his farm turn off like that, and not so much as offering you a drink to sustain you !)

  2. Thanks Lynda - yes, the people who helped me had little more than the rags on their backs ... and the rich man would have gladly seen me dead ... all because of the length of my hair ...