Jul 4, 2012

Don’t judge the man in the street

My grandmother had a saying that one should never judge people less fortunate than you. And that is so true. I have a gardener, Bennett, who comes every second week to mow the lawn. Up and down the street he goes with his lawnmower looking for customers with long grass. He learned that I was a writer and every two weeks he would ask me about writing, and eventually this week said he had written 800 words and could I read it and give my opinion. I said yes, and the next day the piece arrived in the email.

I was astounded by what he had written and the subject he chose. I felt so bad after finishing reading the article. It was flawless writing and the piece was titled African Development, the story of a 37 year old guy called Justin Brogan who was born in England and had an African dream and traveled from one side of Africa to the other in search of funds “for a better life for all forever”.

In 2004, in Mozambique, he traveled through villages and noted the sad state of living conditions, especially with children who were using charcoal or sticks to write. He wanted to make a difference and provided educational material in the form of pencils, pens, crayons and other educational stuff. “Out there in rural areas are forgotten children,” he said. “I am trying to put them on the map.

Known as the Chummer for his Land Rover hummer, Brogan has traveled to Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia and Botswana all on his own and said of his expedition: “My challenges included funds for fuel, vehicle services, accommodation and food for this 20 000km journey.” After reading this piece I felt ashamed of my own prejudices and thinking and felt properly humbled. In all the time Bennet has been cutting my lawn, I knew nothing about him; yet my gardener who was born in Africa has a higher education than I have.


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