There is hope.

– I was born into a world that was not ready for me. A world that was not ready for what I looked like, the potential that boiled beneath my skin and the possibility that grew in size as I grew in strength. The world was not ready for me and  I wear that scar on my shoulders like a queen’s cloak. I have grown strong enough to bare it. But not all of us are. – 

After creating BLACK & WHITE an Adoption Storytelling, I was invited to bring my story to Swellendam. 2 years ago, I found myself being introduced, after my very first performance in Swellendam, to some of the most eclectic and outspoken people that I had ever met. Amongst this group of, and I feel that it is important to say white, people, there was Amada Shackley.

Amanda and her husband Dave have been quietly building, around them, a community of open minded and confrontational white, coloured and black friends and family. Impangele, their B & B cottage encapsulates their personality to the T. The cottage is open, friendly and quirky, with it’s safari animal styled rooms and decorations with dressing gowns to match. Impangele stands at the end of a quiet street overlooking the rolling mountains and the town of Swellendam.

On arrival the first thing that one notices is the sign on the door, ‘Welcome, ring the bell, if no response, knock, if no response, call or shout’ or something along those lines. What a wonderful welcome. It feels like home before you have even entered the door.

Just one house down the way lives Elsabe Esterhuizen. Elsabe owns Adaliah Care, a 24-hour place of safety for babies waiting for adoption or orphaned. Amanda did not hesitate to introduce me, black and my mother, white, to Elsabe, white and her adopted child Bongi, black. The afternoon was filled with much talk and learning while babies around us gurgled and hiccuped.

Amanda had to sever me from the babies and my mom from deep discussions with Elsabe, we were both so happy at Adaliah, it was hard to leave. We were packed into Amanda’s car and taken to meet the multi-talented, multi-class, multi-aged group of singers, rappers, poets, directors and musicians that make up the members of SAM ( Swellendam Arts Movement).

After a colourful afternoon of music and cuteness, my mother and I were taken to Wildebraam Berry Estate to prepare for our performance of ‘BLACK & WHITE an Adoption Storytelling’. The event was so well received. Stereotypically, Swellendam is quite old and is a somewhat backwards town.

THERE IS HOPE,  our audience was filled with locals from both the wealthy, old, white, traditional side and poor black, brown and young side of Swellendam. The back row was filled with tiny members of Adaliah house while closer to the front we were speaking to people who were wanting to adopt or had or were adopted. And many locals just wanted to hear our story.

entry to the event was free and on a give-what-you-can structure. All money raised from our performance was given to Elsabe and her little ones waiting for new mommies and daddies at Adaliah Care.

When you head to Swellendam, make sure to connect with these wonderful human beings. Contact Amanda and Dave Shackley and your time in Swellendam will be magical. Thanks to them Swellendam has become my new favourite place.






One thought on “There is hope.

  1. Thola – you have made us the heroes of a story which is one in which you and your mother played the biggest part. To see Bongi’s face as she looked up to you and wanted private time with you – even if was only to discuss baby dogs – was very special. To watch the way our rappers responded at rehearsal to someone who gave them confidence and inspiration was amazing – and then to see them arrive at your performance that evening, was the icing on the cake. If there is hope, (and I am guilty of harbouring a huge amount of despair and bleakness with current world politics,) then the hope is generated by people like you, who give so generously of your time and gifts. Thank you so very much.


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