On my last day in Africa, I met a man that inspired me beyond any professor I have ever had. Mandla is a Christian man, a smart man, a grown man. His only crime is being a black man. He lived through apartheid. He lived through oppression. He lived through years of bullshit.
Mandla, a driver, never experienced life. He spoke to me about his regrets. He, a resident of Cape Town, had never been to Boulders Beach, Robben Island or Cape Point. I spent all day with Manla, the most genuine and kind man I have ever met. Mandla is 46 years old. His life was plagued with racism, hatred and disgust. I spent hours with this amazing man by accident. It was pure fate that I ended up with him. A devout Christian, a hard worker, he spends his days driving people back and forth. We drove for an hour, to see and experience the coast and go to Boulders Beach for the first time. Smiling jubilantly, we talked about what we could see there – the African penguins and the beautiful beach. Both of us expressed that this was a dream to be able to go to this place. I ask that he join me to see the penguins, he smiles a wide and genuine smile. We arrive finally. At the arrival gate, he tells me “Miss, I will wait in the car. I cannot afford the entrance fee”. Listen to me, my beloved, the entrance fee is 70 Rand (3 USD). Mandla, a man who had worked his entire life, could not afford to go in. He saw the entrance fee, and his face dropped. He told me the he will wait for me outside. I, for one, do not believe in anyone not living their dream. I paid for Mandla. His smile and his excitement was more than any payment that I have ever received. Our day together was easily the best day of my life.
Always be grateful for the life you live.