Another mother dead and gone.
Now she lays under the soft, red dirt.
The old women cry out
Sobs shaking their worn bodies.
As the villagers retreat
With the setting sun,
The mother’s children watch
Who will feed them now?
Who will teach them now?
Who will raise them now?
No mother; no father;
Grandmother calls to them
with tears in her eyes
and fear in her heart.
When will this curse end,
Her children should have their mother,
she tells herself and the unsatisfied ancestors
whose price for happiness was death
Of her daughter.
Then duty grips her-
The duty of ubuntu;
One child belongs to the village
Because of the thread of community
Which weaves through each member of the village.
The orphaned children slowly
Rise to their dusty feet
And turn from their mother’s grave.
With courage found in the depths of their souls
They start on a new journey
With fleeting hope,
Uncertain of the future.
* * *
In many villages, there is no education on AIDS. The people of South Africa are dying and many do not know why. They see the vast increase of funerals but know not the cause. Tradition is written so deeply in the culture, many turn to sangomas, or witch doctors/spiritual healers, for help. Often using animal and human bone along with sacrifice, sangomas rebuke the ‘curse’ on a family or village. Families whose members have died from the ‘curse’ are seen as outsiders as fear grips other members of the community who do not want to get cursed by association.
For those who do know about AIDS, many myths still exist about how to cure it. One of the most popular myth is to sleep with a virgin. Shame causes many to never admit they are HIV positive. It spreads like wildfire. Grandparents are raising children because this generation is parentless with AIDS acting the Grim Reaper and taking lives prematurely. Often, ‘gogos’, or grandmothers, of several families children raise orphans because the grandparents have passed on as well. As the African proverb says, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Ubuntu, the belief that the community or village takes care of everyone in the community has allowed orphans to have some guardian for their upbringing.
The reality is bitter.
Will you join me in praying for hope for this generation? Will you join me in praying for education and acceptance of this ‘curse’ that kills millions every year? Will you join me in praying for the orphans who have no father or mother to turn to? Will you pray for those who have selflessly taken in orphans?